Make a date with dates

Use nature’s candy in both sweet and savory dishes.

Date and granola-cookie balls (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Date and granola-cookie balls
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
With almost zero fat content, rich fiber content, no artificial additives and natural, delicious sweetness, one of this holiday’s staple foods, dates, should be served during Succot at every meal.
Use yellow fresh dates frozen as a sweet treat, use dates in salads, main dishes and, of course, in desserts. Mix them in granola or pancakes for breakfast, in salads for lunch or add to savory meat and vegetarian dishes for dinner and have a very sweet holiday.
Makes 4 servings
✔ 420 gr. fillet of seas bass, bones and skin removed
✔ 10 whole medjool dates, pitted
✔ 60 gr. pine nuts, lightly roasted
For the dressing
✔ 100 ml. fresh lemon juice
✔ 100 ml. olive oil
✔ 50 ml. silan
✔ Zest of 2 lemons
✔ Zest of 2 oranges
✔ Pinch coarse salt
✔ Freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish
✔ Seeds of 1 pomegranate
✔ Chopped cilantro (or other greens, such as parsley) In a jar, mix together all the dressing ingredients. Shake well.
Mash the dates and mix with the pine nuts. Form 1-cm. balls from the date paste.
Slice the fish thinly into strips and divide equally among the plates. Drizzle the dressing on the fish strips.
Place the date balls on the plates and garnish with chopped cilantro (or other greens) and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
Recipe and photo courtesy of The Plants Production & Marketing Board of Israel, Dates table.
Makes 4 servings
Thanks to their exceptional candy-like sweetness, Medjool dates are often referred to as “the king of dates.” The following recipe uses the sweet chewy Medjool date to create a hearty filling for a meatless main dish.
✔ 1 acorn squash
✔ ¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans or pecan pieces
✔ ¼ cup Medjool dates, pitted and diced
✔ 1 Tbsp. orange juice
✔ ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
✔ 1 Tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 180°.
Using a sharp knife, carefully 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, cutside up. Add ½ cm. water to the pan.
Combine pecans, dates, orange juice and cinnamon; blend well. Spoon filling evenly into squash halves, then dot each evenly with butter.
Bake uncovered 55 to 65 minutes or until the squash is very tender. Do not underbake.
Cut each half in two before serving.
Recipe from McClatchy Newspapers/TNS.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
✔ 1 kg. pasta flour (durum)
✔ 500 ml. water
✔ 1 egg
✔ 1 cup ground cooked spinach leaves, drained
✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ Pinch each salt, black pepper and turmeric
For the filling
✔ 500 gr. chicken breast, ground once
✔ 200 gr. shallots, chopped
✔ 3 Tbsp. oil for frying
✔ 100 gr. chives, chopped
✔ 12 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
✔ Pinch kosher salt
✔ Pinch freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
✔ 1 liter chicken broth
✔ 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
✔ 200 gr. chicken breast, cooked and separated into fibers with a fork
✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
✔ 10 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and cooked, chopped
To prepare the pasta: Mix eggs, water, seasonings and spinach. Pour the flour in a heap on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle and pour in the egg and spinach mixture. With your hands, mix together and knead. Shape pastry into a ball. Wrap the ball with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
To make the filing:
Heat oil in a pan, sauté onion until golden brown. Add chicken, salt and pepper. Add the dates and the chives.
Mix well and remove from heat.
Roll out the pastry and cut into small discs. Place a heaping tsp. of filling in the middle of each disc and fold over into halfmoon ravioli. Or cut the pastry into squares and make triangles. Make sure the edges are closed tight along the seams. You can choose to shape the ravioli differently.
To cook the ravioli, fill a large pot with salted water, bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the broth in another pot.
Add the cornstarch mixed with water and stir until the broth thickens. Add grated boiled chicken breast, shiitake mushrooms and ginger.
Pour a little of the sauce into each plate, place cooked ravioli on top and garnish with finely chopped chives.
Recipe and photo courtesy of The Plants Production & Marketing Board of Israel, Dates table.
Makes 14 to 16
This recipe from food writer and cookbook author Pascal Peretz-Rubin ( is easy to make and is a perfect succa item.
✔ 14 to 16 cupcake paper molds
✔ 15 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ 1½ cups hot water
✔ 1 cup flour, sifted
✔ ½ cup whole flour, sifted
✔ ½ tsp. baking powder
✔ 1 tsp. baking soda ¼ tsp. ground clove
✔ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
✔ ¾ cup demerara brown sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. raw tehina
✔ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
✔ 1 egg
✔ 100 gr. walnuts, crushed Preheat oven to 180°.
Place chopped dates in a bowl. Add butter and pour the hot water on top. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients – flours, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Gradually, mixing with a wooden spoon, add the wet ingredients.
Add the egg, vanilla extract and tehina. Mix well and add the nuts.
Arrange the cupcake molds on a baking sheet and grease with oil spray. Using 2 spoons or a pastry bag, fill the baking molds up to ¾ of their height.
Bake 15-20 minutes.
Makes about 25
Kids love these cookies and will be happy to help prepare these faux chocolate balls that are as pretty as they are healthy. The recipe is courtesy of Man cookies.
✔ 1 package (500 gr.) vacuum-packed pitted dates
✔ ½ package Man granola cookies (125 gr.)
✔ ¼ cup dried cranberries
✔ ¼ cup coconut flakes
✔ 50 gr. walnuts, chopped
✔ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
Place half of the cookies in a plastic bag and crush using a wooden hammer. Don’t overdo it – the texture should be coarse, not fine.
Chop the nuts.
Remove dates from the package and mix in the cookie crumbs and the crushed nuts and mix until integrated.
Cut the date mass into small bits. The size should be similar to the desired size of the finished balls. Form into balls.
Roll the balls in a plate filled with coconut flakes and serve.
Tip: Let the kids help in rolling and dipping the balls. You may replace the coconut flakes with colored sprinkles.