We spotted big boxes of beautiful medjool dates at the store this week, and we're wondering if we can think of enough things that we can make with them without getting bored. We have a few ideas - what are your suggestions?
Granted it takes a long time for dates to get too shriveled and dry to use, so we have plenty of time to use them up! Dates are partially dehydrated tropical stone fruits with a chewy, moist texture. Their sugars become super concentrated, making them a good choice for a natural sweetener.
Here's how we're thinking of using them. Think we can use three whole pounds?
1. Oatmeal - Cooked along with the oatmeal itself, dates melt into the cereal and create little melted pockets of fruity-sweet goodness. Add them toward the end of cooking and they'll keep their chewy texture a little more.
2. Baked Goods - Dates can be the main attraction, like in these Sticky Toffee Cakelets, or they can be ground into a paste and used as an alternative sweetener and thickener. Try using 1/4 cup pureed dates to replace some of the butter and sugar in cookie and brownie recipes.
3. Salads - We love chewy nibbles of dried fruits in our weekday salads, so why not go on a date kick? This salad with dates, chicken, almonds, and goat cheese is always a winner.
4. Pizza - Pizza might sound like strange place for dates, but we like contrasting sweet flavors with smoked meats and sharp cheeses.
5. Stuffed Dates - We have to be careful not to eat the whole plate ourselves when we make a batch of Juno's Pregnant Dates. We've started adding a wodge of goat cheese or blue cheese along with the almond.
6. Rices and Grains - Dates and grains are a classic combination. Add some wilted greens, nuts, and a zesty vinaigrette, and we'd have a nice side dish.
7. Smoothies - Smoothies at our house tend to become a catch-all for whatever bits of fruit need to get used. Dates always add a nice backnote of sweetness.
8. Infused Liquor - We've been meaning to try this for quite some time. Imagine date-infused bourbon or even date-infused vodka for fruity cocktails. Barring that, we might make a date-infused simple syrup to use as a mixer.
9. Freeze the Remainder - Because they're so high in sugar, we've heard that dates freeze very well without losing much of their texture. If we run out of ideas, we'll try freezing the leftovers until we're inspired again!
What other ideas do you have for using up a load of dates?
Related: Late Winter Sweetness: The Pleasures of Stewed Fruit