Now, you can use any blue cheese you like, or a different kind of cheese if you don't care for the blue varieties. The dates are so sweet and chewy, and just meld together with the pungent and smooth blue cheese, and the salty, smoky, crisp bacon. Add in some "Power Greens" consisting of: spinach, kale, and chard, some toasted walnuts, and to top it all off, a generous drizzle of the Apple Fig Vinaigrette, and you will be left wanting more!! If you want to make this vegetarian or vegan, simply leave out the bacon for the stuffed dates, and the cheese all together! To make this even more sophisticated, I've assembled this salad in a beautiful glass that can be served this way for any special occasion, or upscale event! It really takes it to another level, and makes something as simple as a salad, seem like much more. Any style of glass can be used, but try to stick to a glass that has a wider mouth for eating out of with a fork, and has some durability. (Not a thin, or "dainty" glass!)
If you want to add a more "rustic" or casual look for serving, mason jars work great too!
Yield: 6+ **You can adjust the servings to suit your needs
Stuffed Medjool Dates
6 each Medjool Dates
Danish Blue Cheese (Or any blue cheese variety) **Could also use Goat cheese, Mascarpone, etc.
6 slices of bacon (1 slice per date) **A 12oz. regular package contains about 12 slices
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Make a slit in each date, (making sure not to slice entirely in half!), and remove the pit. After the dates are pitted, take a small chunk of blue cheese, and stuff inside each date. After all dates have been stuffed with the blue cheese, on a clean surface, take a slice of bacon and lay it flat. Place the stuffed date at one end, and simply roll all the way to the other end. To keep the bacon in place while baking, simply take a toothpick, and skewer through the date to secure. Place the dates on a foil lined sheet tray. When all of the dates have been rolled with the bacon and secured with toothpicks, place in a 350F oven for 20-30min., and bake until nice and browned.
Remove when done, and using tongs, transfer the dates to a paper towel lined platter to remove excess grease.
Apple (Fig) Vinaigrette
2 T. of Apple Fig Butter (or purchased apple butter works too!)
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
salt & pepper to taste
1) Simply place all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or protein shake mixer cup, and blend until emulsified.
**Refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps well in a mason jar.
Grilled Pear Salad
1 or 2 Pears (Any variety is fine!) each pear cut into roughly 12 slices
1 Fennel bulb (sliced)
1/2 red onion (sliced medium/ thin)
**additional Danish Blue Cheese
4.5 oz. container of "Power Greens" (or any variety of greens you would like to use!)
about 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
Bacon wrapped dates (cut in 1/2 or served whole)
**optional: fennel fronds for additional garnish
Apple Fig Vinaigrette
1) Using a lightly oiled "grill pan", (or an actual grill), place you pear, fennel, and red onion on the heated pan/grill for a short time. (About 30 sec.- 1min. per side). You really just want to achieve the grill marks, but not get the fruit/ veggies too soggy! Remove from heat.
2) Assemble the salads on a plate, bowl, or glass: Arrange the greens, fennel, onions, pear, however you would like to serve! Finish by scattering some walnuts, blue cheese, a frond of fennel, and drizzle over the vinaigrette.
(In the glasses, I layered a few greens, then the walnuts, fennel, onion, and finished with 2 slices of pear, 1/2 of the bacon wrapped date, some walnuts, little bit of blue cheese, and drizzled on the vinaigrette right before serving.)
Serve right away, and enjoy!