An Appetizer Must for Every Gathering

Sweet Smoky & Spicy Stuffed DatesIt’s almost officially summer and that means more BBQ gatherings with family and friends. If you’re looking for something new to share with everyone give these stuffed dates a try. They’re kind of like an inside out stuffed jalapeno wrapped with eggplant bacon. Stuffed jalapenos are one of my favorite appetizers, but I haven’t had them in so long. These are a healthier version since they aren’t breaded and fried.

I’ll leave it up to you to make it as hot as you want. You can remove all the jalapeno seeds, some of them, or none of them. I recommend leaving some of the seeds so that each bite will be the perfect balance of sweet, smoky, and spicy (hence the name).

The cooking method I used was baking, but I’m sure you could throw them on the grill for a few minutes too. Use a grill pan or make one out of foil though. I would recommend soaking the toothpicks if you’re going to grill them so they don’t go up in flames and ignite your dates. Just keep an eye on them and I’m sure it will turn out fantastic.

You will have some jalapeno cashew cheese leftover after stuffing the dates. Don’t miss what I did with it at the end of this post!

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Sweet Smoky & Spicy Stuffed Dates

vegan, soy-free, gluten-free

makes 30

Jalapeno Cashew Cheese:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • filtered water
  • 2 jalapenos, diced (with or without seeds)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • juice from half lemon
  1. Throw cashews in a medium bowl and cover with filtered water. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  2. Drain cashews and add to a food processor along with other ingredients.
  3. Blend ingredients until mixed. While processor is on low slowly add in water until the mixture is smooth, it takes about 1/2 cup.
  4. Turn up the speed and blend for another minute to make sure everything is well mixed and no chunks of cashews are left. The consistency should resemble wet ricotta cheese. Set aside until ready to use.

Eggplant Bacon:

  • 1/2 pound eggplant, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • juice from half lemon
  1. Slice eggplant into thin strips, on ‘2’ of a mandolin, to get about 30 slices. If you have a wider eggplant then you should cut the strips in half to fit the dates.
  2. In a small bowl whisk remaining ingredients together.
  3. Pour marinade over eggplant in a shallow dish or bowl making sure all eggplant slices get coated.
  4. Cover eggplant tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Every 2 to 4 hours give the eggplant a shaking.
  5. Once done lay out strips in a single layer on some paper towels to soak up excess liquid. Set aside until ready to wrap dates.

To assemble dates:

  • 30 Medjool dates
  • 30 slices of eggplant bacon
  • 30 toothpicks
  • jalapeno cashew cheese
  • piping bag with tip OR plastic baggie with 1 corner snipped off
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Split dates open on one side lengthwise and remove pit and stem.
  3. Fill piping bag with jalapeno cashew cheese and fill split dates with about 2 tablespoons worth. Gently close dates so you don’t squeeze out the cheese.
  4. Take a slice of eggplant and wrap it around. Use a toothpick to pin it all together through the side of the date.
  5. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the eggplant starts to look crispy.
  6. Let cool and serve. Enjoy!

Sweet Smoky & Spicy Stuffed Dates

Sweet Smoky & Spicy Stuffed Dates

Sweet Smoky & Spicy Stuffed Dates

What to do with leftover Jalapeno Cashew Cheese

Oil two ramekins and divide the leftovers among them. Bake them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it gets golden on top. Let them cool all the way, cover them, and stick them in the fridge. It lasted about 2 weeks, maybe longer.

We used it on everything! Baking it created a crust on the outside and left it soft on the inside, about the consistency of feta. We crumbled it on salads, topped off a fresh pizza with it, and garnished some tacos. It would make a great addition to a chickpea omelette too. Give it a try!

Jalapeno Cashew Cheese

3 thoughts on “An Appetizer Must for Every Gathering

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