Native to Morocco, and produced in the more arid pockets of our state, dates have never been one of those fruits that I’ve given much attention to. I see some of our customers loading up on this super sweet item by the case on a nearly weekly basis, always curious on how they enjoy them.
Of course, they can be most easily consumed as they come, as long as you ensure the removal of the central pit.
You can incorporate dates into a shake, smash them down and top them with almond pieces and shredded coconut to enjoy them as a date bar. Or maybe chop and toss into a salad or steamed rice.
Over the past couple of years, I have slowly been acquiring a taste for this intriguing item harvested from the date palm tree, enjoying them in moderation from time to time. My kids, too, are slowly catching on.
One of the most attractive attributes of fresh dates is the overall health benefits they deliver.
First off, dates are rich in dietary fiber, delivering about 3.2 grams in just two dates, and provide some protein. They also contain all 20 amino acids and are a great source of vitamin B complex as well as a wide array of minerals that includes copper, iron, calcium, magnesium. With regards to potassium, they provide per weight more than that of banana.
This week I prepared a sautéed carrot and date recipe, tossed with a little sesame oil, sesame seeds, fresh cilantro leaves, and feta cheese.
The earthy carrots pair quite well with the sweet dates, in conjunction with the slightly tangy cheese. Serve them as a simple side or toss this mixture with quinoa or brown rice. It also makes for a nice salad topper over a spinach, kale, or mixed green salad.
Sautéed Carrot and Date Salad
6 dates. (I used honey dates but medjool also a great option.)
3 large carrots. (I used yellow and orange carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes.)
2 tablespoons sesame oil.
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped.
1/4 cup feta cheese.
Optional, 2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled.
Place your dates in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or longer, so they are nice and firm. In a large sauté pan, add sesame oil and sauté carrots at medium heat, turning occasionally. Cook until just soft, but not mushy, about 6-7 minutes.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool to room temperature or refrigerate.
Remove dates from the refrigerator, open and remove the pit. Cut dates into small pieces. Toss together carrots, dates, sesame seeds, feta cheese, and cilantro.
Squeeze the top with the juice from one lime and toss together.
Yield: Serves 2 sides.