As we move towards the holidays we break out quick recipes for entertaining. When we host a party we tend to serve a few quick snacks, usually a mix of hot of cold dishes. One of our favorites is just radishes, butter and salt, but this combination of sweet dates with crunchy celery and savory parmesan cheese is a new favorite. The dish combines many flavors and textures, is quick to make and easy to eat with a drink in your hand. A perfect cocktail party treat.
We are familiar with many parmesan-stuffed date recipes, but this recipe from Hugh Acheson is one of the first we know of that adds the crisp, vegetal crunch of celery and the bite of Italian parsley. Add some acidity from a quick vinaigrette and you have a very well-rounded bite. We added some of the tender celery leaves and a splash of sherry vinegar to fit our tastes, but whether you tune the recipe or stick with the original version, you get a very tasty dish.
Making these stuffed dates is as easy as it gets. Peel and chop some celery, and reserve some of the leaves, then chop some Italian parsley. Make a quick dressing with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Add the celery and parsley and mix with the vinaigrette. Grate a few ounces of parmesan cheese and add it to the mixture. Then slit 6-8 Medjool dates lengthwise and carefully remove the pits and stuff with a tablespoon of the cheese and celery mixture.
And then you are pretty much ready to serve. Put the stuffed dates on a serving dish, maybe drizzle on some oil, vinegar,a pinch of salt and a few sprigs of parsley. The only question is how you present the dates. The dates are malleable and sticky, so you can stuff them and close them completely to hide the stuffing. Or you can leave the dates open to show off the goodies. We like to leave the dates open, but it is your call. Regardless of how they look, you will enjoy the depth of flavors and textures. And it’s good these are easy to make, your guests will probably ask you for another batch.
(Adapted from Hugh Acheson)
Notes Before You Start:
- Look for large, quality Medjool dates for this dish and use the best parmesan you can find.
What You Get: A perfect cocktail party snack.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? 5 minutes. Anytime dish. And this is worth making any time.
- 6 large (or 8 medium) Medjool Dates
- 1 stalk of celery, preferably with a few leaves still attached
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
- Pinch of salt
- 2 – 3 oz. grated parmesan cheese (the best you can get)
- Sherry and/or balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- Peel the outer side of the celery and remove the strings. Chop the celery, on the diagonal, into pieces about 1/4 wide. Reserve a few of the celery leaves. Chop the parsley.
- Combine the celery, celery leaves and parsley with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the lemon juice and salt. Mix well and then fold in the grated parmesan cheese.
- Slit one side of each date lengthwise and then remove the pits. Stuff the dates with about a tablespoon of the celery and parmesan mixture. Squeeze the dates a little to secure the stuffing. Arrange the dates on a serving plate and drizzle with the remaining olive oil, a touch of balsamic and/or sherry vinegar, a sprinkle of salt and a few sprigs of parsley. Serve.