Well, this is my first Tapas entry and believe me, trying to decide which one to use was a bit of a mind bender. I tried to get my family to help, but everyone had their own ideas about what qualified as a Tapas. My son Justin finally suggested my Bacon Dates. I can’t take entire credit for these delicious bites, my oldest daughter made them last year during the Christmas holiday (she went to a party where the hostess served them) and they are easy, inexpensive and a crowd pleaser.
What You Need:
Pitted Dates (you can also use fresh dates if you prefer and pit them yourself)
I recommend getting a 16oz container of the Dates. You can usually find them in the produce section with the dried fruit and nuts, just make sure they are whole pitted Dates and make sure you check the ‘use by’ date to insure freshness. I haven’t done a lot of experimenting with this recipe, but as I’m writing this, I’m getting the idea to try using other fruits like Apricot and Mango.
A 1 lb. package of bacon. You can use fresh or pre-cooked bacon, avoid the wide cut bacon. If you are using fresh, make sure you look for bacon with more meat than fat. Also note that fresh bacon takes a little longer to cook and requires placing a wire rack on the cookie sheet before placing the wrapped dates on the sheet to keep the dates from absorbing too much of the grease. I prefer using pre-cooked bacon because it’s faster, has less grease and it’s quicker to clean up after. I know that some people prefer to use Turkey bacon, but I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know how it would turn out – but just for kicks, I’ll have to test it out!
Cookie Sheets – (1-2 depending on the size of your cookie sheet and number of guests you are cooking for)
Parchment Paper – (this is optional, you can line your cookie sheet with it to help absorb some of the grease)
Wooden Toothpicks – (avoid the kind with the colored cellophane on the tips)
Paper Towels or Brown Paper Bag – (to help blot some of the grease after you remove cooked dates from the oven)
Festive Serving Plates
How To Prepare:
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
If you are using fresh bacon, cut the strips in half. If you are using pre-cooked bacon, cut the strips in half if possible. Sometimes you can’t get 2 pieces out of one strip depending on how they packaged it. (but you don’t need all that bacon for one date either, so I trim some of the excess and save it for topping off salads, or use them in omelettes).
Wrap each date in bacon as you would a pig in a blanket and then use a toothpick to hold the bacon in place.
If you are using fresh bacon, I recommend laying a wire cooling rack on top of the cookie sheet, then place the dates on the rack – leave just enough room between dates so they don’t touch.
If you are using pre-cooked bacon you can use parchment paper, however it is not mandatory and there is no need to use the racks.
Place in oven and cook until bacon is crisp – approximately 15-20 minutes for fresh, 7-10 for pre-cooked. The times will vary depending on your use of fresh or pre-cooked and your ovens. You can increase the oven temperature to speed up the crisping process. I don’t recommend using the broiler because the intense heat causing grease splatter and smoking.
Plum Dipping Sauce – optional
by the Editors of Easy Home Cooking Magazine
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
2/3 cup plum sauce (check your grocery store’s Specialty or Ethnic food aisles)
2 green onions (scallions) with tops, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
3 to 4 drops hot chili oil (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl; mix well. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.
***** I’ve also heard that if you stuff the dates with a tiny piece of Blue Cheese or Parmesan Cheese it gives them an added twist – I’ll have to try them out next time as well! *****