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Warm Dates with Almonds and Lime Zest

Dates are one of the sweetest, most natural confections you can put in your mouth, and a classic Middle Eastern sweet. They remind me of brown sugar, of caramel … nature’s caramel. I learned about these almond-stuffed dates with lime at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, from the great chef, author, and teacher Tori Ritchie. She learned about them from Patricia Wells on a culinary trip to Morocco. I’d buy fresh, big, chewy California Medjool dates every week from a stall at the Ferry Farmers Market near the little culinary school. I had to force myself to save them, rather than eating them all on my hilly walk home, so I could eat them warm, stuffed with almonds, that evening. The dates are wonderful as an appetizer or after a meal (let your guests know there are almonds inside, not a pit!). The best dates to eat and to use for this recipe are fresh (not dried) Medjools, which happily are showing up regularly now in most grocery stores. –Maureen Abood, author of Rose Water & Orange Blossoms: Fresh and Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Makes 12 stuffed dates
  • 12 Medjool dates
  • 24 whole roasted, salted almonds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to finish
  • Grated zest of 1 organic lime

Preparation

Pull open the tip of each date with your fingertips and pull out the pit. Push two almonds into the cavity and close the opening. The dates may look and feel messy at first, but they are malleable and will return to their original shape.

To warm the dates, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet. Add the dates and cook, shaking the pan so they are lightly coated in oil and warmed through, about two minutes. Place the dates on a platter and sprinkle with salt and lime zest, and serve them right away, warm.