Sounds a bit like a twist on rumaki? I first tasted this classic Spanish appetizer at a wonderful restaurant in Los Angeles, called AOC, that specializes in tapas. At once sweet, smoky, and salty, the little brown nuggets are a crowd pleaser, the perfect pick-up nibble to offer with cocktails. To make small shards of Parmesan cheese, cut them from a wedge of cheese with a sharp knife. Serve the dates hot from the oven while the cheese is still warm and watch how fast they disappear.
Serves 6 to 8
18 large Medjool dates
18 pieces Parmesan cheese, each about 1 inch by 1/4 inch
6 slices apple-cured bacon, each cut into thirds
1 bunch parsley, stems removed, for garnish
1 Preheat the oven to 450°F. Slit each date along one side and carefully remove the pit. Insert a piece of Parmesan into each slit. Wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed date and secure with a toothpick. Place the dates on a baking sheet.
2 Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the bacon on top is crisp. Using tongs, turn the dates and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. Transfer the dates to a double layer of paper towels to drain.
3 Place the parsley bunch in the center of a round serving platter and arrange the dates around the parsley. Serve immediately.
4 Advance Preparation: Make up 1 day ahead through step 1, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.
The clever cook could
1 Arrange the dates on top of mixed greens dressed with Basic Vinaigrette for an unusual first course.
2 Substitute different cheeses such as dry Sonoma Jack or pecorino toscana.
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Excerpted from Seriously Simple Holidays: Recipes and Ideas to Celebrate the Season by Diane Rossen Worthington. Copyright 2007 by Chronicle Books. Excerpted with permission by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.