From the archives, first posted April 21, 2009. This is one of our most popular posts and one of my favorite appetizers. Easy and always a crowd pleaser, it’s a great one to have in your back pocket as we approach the holiday season.
We first had bacon-wrapped dates at a tapas place we like in Menlo Park, Iberia. The service can be spotty, but the food is delicious, and the sangria is deadly. They stuff their bacon-wrapped dates with Spanish-style chorizo. It makes a great combination of spicy, sweet, and salty. Here, we subbed the chorizo for Campo de Montalban cheese (similar to manchego) and an almond. I tossed the almonds with olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika to add that spicy note, and I like the addition of the creaminess of the cheese. It’s a great fusion of flavors, and a wonderful appetizer.
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Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates
We’ve tried these with Medjool dates, but they are a bit too sweet and moist. We like them better with more readily available (and cheaper) California dates.
20 pitted dates
20 blanched almonds
10 pieces of bacon
1/4 c cheese, such as manchego, Campo de Montalban, or goat cheese, in small chunks
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Optional: Toss almonds with a bit of olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Don’t shirk on the spices; you want the flavor to come through in the final product. Toast for a few minutes, until barely beginning to brown. Let cool.
Stuff the dates with one almond and a few small chunks of the cheese. (You can probably just use the holes in each end of the date instead of cutting slits in them.) Wrap each date in a half slice of bacon, and secure the ends with toothpicks.
Place the dates on a broiler pan. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes, turn, and bake for another 5 minutes or so, until the bacon is crispy. Serve warm.