A bite-sized sweet party in your mouth… wrapped in bacon
Greeks love mezes, little bite-sized (usually) appetizers that you can serve before a meal, or in place of a meal. It is not unusual to be served several platters of mezes, along with a lovely glass of ouzo or ouzo-infused cocktail, and be fully satisfied. The mezes are usually plenty, and they are so delicious that you are never wanting for a complete and formal meal. Common on the meze table are spanakopita, tyropita, meatballs (keftedes) and dips or spreads. Less common would be something like these dates, stuffed with feta enhanced with orange zest and mint, wrapped in bacon. These bite-size morsels of sweet, salt, savoury and awesomeness will definitely make you smile.
It’s pretty essential to use the plump Mejool variety of dates for this recipe; these dates are large enough to make stuffing easy. It is uncommon to find Mejool dates which are already pitted, but that’s okay. It is very easy to remove the pit with a sharp paring knife. Directions for doing so, as well as a video link of pit-removal in action, are in the recipe itself.
Greek feta will always win out over other types of feta, so be sure to get the best quality Greek feta you can get your hands on for this recipe. A little goes a long way as you will not be stuffing each date with more than about a teaspoon of crumbled cheese.
We live in Canada, and so are used to the luxury (apparently) which is Canadian bacon; apparently bacon in other parts of the world is not the same. We can’t proclaim to know exactly what the difference is, but if you can get your hands on Canadian bacon, do so. When you wrap your date in bacon, wrap it in such a way that the top (where the feta is) does not have the ends of the bacon; the date should sit on the two ends, to keep the whole thing together as it bakes.
Although delicious warm, hot cheese can really burn your mouth…so eat carefully. Be especially careful if you have little mouths that you are feeding. You don’t want anyone to burn their tongue or palate. Best to let cooked dates sit for about 5 minutes; they will still be warm, but not dangerously hot.
Mia Kouppa: Dates stuffed with feta
- 9 Mejool dates
- 2 tablespoons finely crumbled Greek feta
- 1/8 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped mint
- 3 – 4 slices bacon
- Preheat your oven at 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Pit your dates by using a paring knife (or other small knife) to slice into the date, cutting towards the end of the date that has the stem. While you are cutting through the date, use your knife to push the pit out of the end of the date. See video here.
- With your pit removed, carefully make the slit large enough so that you can use a small spoon to stuff your dates.
- In a small bowl combine the crumbled feta, orange rind and chopped mint.
- Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the feta mixture into each of the dates.
- Take a piece of bacon and cut it in half. Then, cut each half into half lengthwise.
- Wrap each date with a piece of bacon, with the ends of the bacon strips meeting on the underside of the date. Meaning, when you place your dates on the parchment lined baking tray that you have ready, the feta will be visible on top, and the date will be sitting on the two ends of the bacon.
- (If you prefer, you can also bake these dates without the bacon, for a vegetarian option).
- Bake at the bottom rack of your oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy!