SERIOUSLY SIMPLE: Crispy Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates: A Spanish take on rumaki
Rumaki, bacon-wrapped bites of chicken liver and water chestnuts, is a classic appetizer. This tasty twist on rumaki wraps apple-cured bacon around a sweet date stuffed with Parmesan cheese. A Spanish-style nibble, this is a terrific pick-up appetizer served with cocktails. Make sure to have cocktail napkins at hand for your guests.
Sweet, smoky and salty, these little brown nuggets are a crowd pleaser. You can make them up ahead and just cook them right before serving. Choose Medjool dates, which have a velvety-soft texture and are one of the sweetest varieties. To make small shards of Parmesan cheese, use a sharp knife and cut off from the whole hunk of cheese
Sometimes I serve these along with a glass of Cava or Prosecco before dinner. The contrasting flavors here pair beautifully with sparkling wine or cocktails. Present these on a tray and watch how fast they disappear. Make sure to serve them hot from the oven while the cheese is still warm.
Crispy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates
Serves 6 to 8: makes 18 pieces
6 slices apple-cured bacon, each piece cut into thirds
18 large dates, pitted with a slit to insert the cheese
18 1-inch by 1/4-inch pieces Parmesan cheese
1 medium bunch parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the dates on a baking sheet and insert the cheese into the slit of each date. Wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed date and secure with a toothpick.
2. Bake for about 5 minutes or until the bacon on top seems crisp. Turn the dates over with tongs and bake another 5 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Using tongs transfer the date to a double layer of paper towels to drain. Place the parsley bunch in the center of a round serving platter and arrange the dates in a circular pattern around the parsley. Serve immediately.
Advance Preparation: May be prepared up 1 day ahead through step 1, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before roasting.
--Multiply this recipe for a large cocktail party.
--Use these dates on top of mixed greens dressed with favorite vinaigrette for an unusual first course.
--Try different cheeses, such as Dry Sonoma Jack or Pecorino Toscana.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 20 cookbooks, including most recently "Seriously Simple Parties" (Chronicle Books, 2012), and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)