The art of a good appetizer:
Step 1: Bacon
Step 2: Blue Cheese
Step 3: Love
Charlie always jokes with me that my cooking is wonderful because it has that special ingredient, LOVE. And while it’s a standing joke at dinner time in our home, he is not lying when he says those words. Food made with love does taste better.
Last year at Thanksgiving instead of bringing a bottle of wine to my cousin’s home, I opted to cook an appetizer. I was in an inspired mood and wanted to create a new recipe. I wanted to bring something special to the Thanksgiving table. I wanted my family to know, through food, that I loved them. Borrowing flavors from my Moroccan Inspired Lamb Stew and Chorizo Dates, this recipe, Bacon Wrapped Dates with Red Pepper Sauce, was born.
More often than not when I cook, I cook to eat. I cook to create a recipe that I’m testing. I cook to eat dinner. I cook because it’s faster than ordering delivery. But the times when I cook out of love, magic happens. These bacon wrapped dates were cooked with heart. I really wanted to bring a special dish for everyone to enjoy. Result = my family devoured the entire plate.
From the unique flavors to the high-quality ingredients, every bit of my soul went into making this dish. I brought flavors together from dishes that I made in past that I really thought complimented each other and, somehow it worked. The dates are very rich with nuts, blue cheese, and bacon. And, the spicy and somewhat tangy sauce cuts the richness.
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Red Pepper Sauce
These bacon wrapped dates are a crowd-pleasing appetizer with sweet dates stuffed with creamy blue cheese then wrapped smoky bacon and served with a tangy red pepper sauce.
- 1 lb bacon (regular cut, do not use thick cut bacon)
- 2 cups pitted dates (about 2 dozen)
- 1 cup of walnuts (about 12 nuts) (optional)
- 1/4 cup blue cheese
- 2 cups roasted red peppers
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (Morrocan Spice)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
Bacon Wrapped Dates
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Make a slit in each date and remove pits.
- Stuff each date with a 1/2 walnut and 1 teaspoon blue cheese.
- Wrap each date with a half a piece of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.
- On a broiler pan, bake the dates for 15 minutes or until bacon is crispy, turning once halfway through cooking.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Serve at room temperature.
- In a blender, add all ingredients.
- Blend until smooth.
- Serve at room temperature.
If the sauce is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water until you reach desired thickness.
Don’t over the stuff the dates. I used a 1/2 walnut and about a teaspoon of blue cheese in each date. Adjust the amounts based on the size of the dates you purchase.
Roll the bacon around the date and cut to size. I recommend having a bit of bacon overlap.
Toothpicks are a must and are best placed directly in the middle of the date.
Use a grill pan to allow the rendered fat to drip from the bacon. I like to line the bottom of the pan with foil for easy cleanup. And don’t forget to flip halfway through cooking.
If you like spicy, add more ras en hanout to the sauce. My family likes mild, but when I make these bacon wrapped dates for more adventurous eaters I add 1-2 tablespoons of the spice blend.