Dates are easy to pack as a snack, sure.
But they also contain a good number of nutrients, not to mention that they have a very long shelf life. Thanks to their exceptional candy-like sweetness, Medjool dates, referred to as “the king of dates,” are often used in desserts. But you don’t have to wait for dessert to enjoy them.
Cooking tips: If the dates stick together, microwave them on medium power for 30 to 45 seconds. To keep dates from sticking to your knife when chopping, spray the blade with vegetable cooking spray.
Citrus salad with dates and walnuts
✔ ½ cup dates, chopped
✔ Boiling water
✔ 4 Tbsp. orange juice
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
✔ Salt to taste
✔ ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
✔ 1 cup mandarin, orange or red grapefruit segments
✔ 5 cups salad greens
✔ ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
In a heatproof bowl, cover dates with boiling water; let sit for 5 minutes. Strain, reserving 1 tsp. of the liquid. Place the reserved liquid in a bowl and add the juice, olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste. Add dates, onion and mandarin segments. Toss with greens and nuts and serve.
Date-filled acorn squash
Makes 4 servings
✔ 1 acorn squash (or other type of squash)
✔ ¼ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
✔ ¼ cup Medjool dates, pitted and diced
✔ 1 Tbsp. orange juice
✔ ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
✔ 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine Preheat oven to 180°.
Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise from stem to end. Scoop out seeds and remove stringy strands. Place squash in a shallow baking pan, cut side up. Add water to the pan up to about ½ cm.
Combine pecans, dates, orange juice and cinnamon. Spoon filling into squash halves, then dot each with butter. Bake uncovered 55 to 65 minutes or until the squash is very tender. Do not underbake. Cut each half in half before serving.
Red tuna with date sauce
This recipe is courtesy of chef Charlie Fadida of the prestigious Olive Leaf Restaurant in the Tel Aviv Sheraton Hotel.
✔ 600 gr. red tuna
✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper For the sauce
✔ 5 dates, peeled, pitted and chopped.
✔ 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
✔ 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ 8 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ ½ tsp. honey
✔ Salt and pepper
To prepare the tuna: Heat a nonstick skillet and add a little oil. Sear the tuna for 30 seconds on each side. Transfer to a paper towel.
Slice the tuna very thinly and arrange on serving plates.
To prepare the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.
To serve: Arrange the arugula on the plates next to the tuna and drizzle the sauce over the fish and the salad.
Date roll with roasted nuts
✔ 600 gr. honey
✔ 200 gr. sugar
✔ 1 kg. Medjool dates, pitted
✔ 170 gr. each: roasted walnuts, roasted pistachios, roasted cashews and roasted pecans
Grind the pitted dates to a paste.
In a pot, bring to a boil the sugar and honey. Add the date paste into the honey mixture and cook for 5 minutes. While it is hot, pour the mixture into a mixer, add the coarsely crushed nuts and mix well. Let cool and roll into a cylinder. Wrap with baking paper and chill until serving. Just before serving, cut into thin slices.
The benefits of eating dates
Merav Mor-Ophir is a nutritionist who works for the Israel Vegetable Council. In time for Tu Bishvat, she tells us why eating dates is a very smart choice
The date, one of the symbols of Tu Bishvat, can be the perfect answer to the desire for sweets, while supplying the body with fiber, minerals and antioxidants.
Low in fat: There is virtually no fat in dates, unlike other candy and dried fruit that have added sugar.
Filling: Rich in fiber and a medium-low glycemic index, two or three dates can allay hunger for a few hours.
Natural energy snack: Dates provide energy without excess sugars or processed ingredients.
Help prevent digestive problems: The fiber in dates helps the digestive system function properly, eliminating some risks of cancer.
Great for sports: The high carb content provides ready energy for people who train or exercise.
Low sodium, high potassium: Much of our diet contains a lot of sodium. Dates, like other fruit, contain almost no sodium, making them great for our health. They are also high in potassium, which is very important in lowering blood pressure, and are rich in magnesium and calcium.
Rich in polyphenols: Dates help reduce the bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
Wide variety: There are many types of dates, each with its unique taste. Try to choose the one you prefer.
Natural process: Dates dry naturally on the tree, unlike other dried fruit that undergo industrial processes and sometimes contain artificially added preservatives, dyes and sugar.
Recipe courtesy of Ophir Kedem, Dan Hotel, Eilat.