Our 10 best date recipes
A fistful of dates will add a toffee-like texture to any number of dishes. Drop them into your breakfast smoothie, stir them into your cakes or dot them across a simple pizza
1 SWEET POTATO PIZZA WITH DATES, GREEN CHILLI AND FETA (ON THE COVER)
Dates bring that satisfying sweetness you get from caramelising onions, without any of the faff, and complement beautifully the tangy savoury notes of the feta. This recipe makes more sauce than you will need.
1 pizza base 50g sweet potato, cut into chunks 30g feta, crumbled 2 dates, pitted and chopped lengthways 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped Olive oil Salt and black pepper
For the sauce
1 tbsp olive oil, for frying 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 500g passata ½ tsp salt ½ tbsp sugar Black pepper A handful of basil, chopped
1 Heat the oven to 240C/475F/gas mark 9. First, make the sauce. Fry the garlic in the olive oil over a medium-high heat, taking care not to let it brown. Add the passata, salt, sugar, black pepper and basil. Turn the heat down low, then simmer for 20 minutes.
2 Arrange the sweet potato in a single layer on a small oven tray, season and add a splash of olive oil. Roast in the hot oven for around 25-30 minutes until soft and the edges have turned brown. Remove from the oven and crush gently with a fork. Set aside.
3 Put your pizza base on a tray and spoon over around 3 tbsp of the sauce. Use the back of the spoon to spread it all over the base, but avoiding the outer edge. Add the sweet potato pieces, crumble on some feta and scatter the dates and chillies evenly across the pizza.
4 Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Serve immediately. Kristian Tapaninaho, uk.uuni.net
2 DATE, MACADAMIA NUT AND MAPLE GRANOLA
This luxurious morning cereal conceals nuggets of chopped-up dates that impart a rich, honeyed depth to every mouthful.
50g unsalted butter 150ml maple syrup 1 tsp vanilla extract A pinch of salt 125g macadamia nuts 300g jumbo rolled oats Zest of 1 orange 200g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 Set the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Stir the butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a saucepan, over a low heat until the butter has completely melted, then set aside.
2 Roughly chop the macadamias, varying the consistency so that some of the nuts have been completely pulverised while others are in large chunks.
3 Put the chopped nuts in a large mixing bowl along with the oats and orange zest, then pour the liquid ingredients over the top. Mix until everything has been coated well.
4 Spread out the granola on a large greased baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, taking the tray out every 10 minutes to break up the granola pieces.
5 Stir in the dates, then bake for a final 10 minutes. Leave to cool on the baking tray, then pour the granola into an airtight container where it will keep for up to 2 weeks.
Georgina Hartley, fromthelarder.co.uk
3 DATE, PISTACHIO AND COCONUT BREAKFAST BARS
Medjool dates lend a soft, fudgy flavour to these nut and fruit bars. They store in an airtight container for up to a month.
250g medjool dates, pitted 80g shelled pistachios 25g rolled oats 1 tbsp honey 1 tbsp water 60g desiccated coconut
1 Blitz the dates in a food processor until they have formed a rough paste. Add the shelled pistachios, oats, honey, water and around half of the desiccated coconut. Blend again until thoroughly mixed.
2 Tip the mix out of the blender on to your work surface and roll it into a rectangle about 2cm thick. Cut the rectangle into 10 equal bars. Put the remaining desiccated coconut into a tub or plate, then roll the bars around in it one at a time until they have all been evenly coated with coconut.
Tom Hunt, tomsfeast.com
4 DATE SMOOTHIE
A dairy-free breakfast drink, sweetened with dates and banana. You can adjust the thickness of the smoothie to your liking by varying the amount of water.
1 tsp chia seeds 1 tbsp blanched almonds 2 dates, pitted 1 banana 1 tsp coconut oil (optional) 200ml water
1 Blitz the chia seeds and almonds in a blender. Add the dates and blitz again, then add the banana and blitz again. Finally, pour in the coconut oil (if using) and roughly one third of the water. The texture will change according to the size of your banana, so keep adding more water until you achieve the thickness of smoothie that you like. Serve immediately. Thomasina Miers, wahaca.co.uk
5 DATE AND BANANA CAKE WITH CARAMEL ICING
The dates in this cake elevate a humble banana loaf into something altogether more moist, rich and decadent.
250g caster sugar 4 eggs 250g rapeseed oil 3 ripe bananas 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tbsp cinnamon 250g plain flour ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda ½ tsp salt 200g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
For the icing
120g butter 2 tbsp milk 220g demerara sugar 160g icing sugar 70g dates, roughly chopped 50g flaked almonds
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Blitz the caster sugar, eggs, oil, ripe bananas, vanilla and cinnamon with either a hand blender or food processor to produce a light batter.
2 Sieve together the flour, bicarb and salt, then add it to the batter, along with the chopped dates. Beat the mix really well, until there are no visible lumps.
3 Pour the cake mix into a lined 30cm-square tin and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
4 Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make the icing. Bring the butter, milk and sugar to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
5 Take the pan off the heat, allow to cool a little, then beat in the icing sugar. Add a splash of milk if the mixture is too thick – it needs to be just pourable. Pour the icing on to the cake immediately and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped dates and flaked almonds and put in a cool place so that the icing sets. Slice and serve.
Alex Bluett, friskafood.com
6 ROASTED CARROTS WITH DATES
The roasting intensifies and marries the flavours of this sweet, spicy side dish. The ingredients call for ginger juice, which you can make yourself by grating fresh root ginger and pressing the pulp against a metal sieve to collect the juice.
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 5cm batons 2–3 tbsp olive oil Salt and black pepper 1½ tsp garam masala ⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
⅓ tsp chilli powder 1½ tsp ginger juice 3–4 mejdool dates, chopped
1 Preheat the oven to 210C/425F/gas mark 7. Toss the carrots with the oil, seasoning, ground spices and ginger juice, then place on a baking tray in the middle of the oven. Roast for 20–22 minutes or until done. Stir in the dates and serve. Anjum Anand, Anjum’s Quick and Easy Indian (Quadrille)
7 ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, CINNAMON, POMEGRANATE AND FRESH DATE SALAD
Toffee-like chopped dates jostle for primacy with picked herbs, crunchy and roasted veg and pomegranate seeds in this exuberant salad.
2 cauliflower heads, cut into florets 75ml rapeseed oil Salt and black pepper
For the dressing
75ml rapeseed oil 2 tbls pomegranate molasses 2 tbsp honey ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ lemon juiced 1 garlic clove, finely chopped Salt and black pepper
For the salad
150g dates, pitted and cut into quarters 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced 1 small rhubarb stalk, thinly sliced ½ small red onion, thinly sliced A handful of mixed baby leaves 2 tbsp chopped dill 2 tbsp chopped parsley 2 tbsp chopped coriander 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds Salt and black pepper Mixed toasted nuts or seeds, to garnish (optional)
1 Heat the oven to 220C/450F/gas mark 8. In a bowl, toss the florets with the oil and season well. Put on to a baking tray and roast for 6-8 minutes until the cauliflower has browned, but still has some bite to it. Set aside to cool.
2 Add all the dressing ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Season to taste.
3 To assemble the salad, put the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl with the cauliflower and any of the juices from the tray. Toss together with the dressing and check the seasoning. Garnish with toasted mixed nuts or seeds, if you fancy, and serve. Tom Catley, bonapeti.com
8 DATE PAIN PERDU
This steaming, creamy, boozy and fruity pudding is an absolute cinch to prepare and is guaranteed to bring a rosy glow to your tablemates.
200g dates, pitted and chopped 100g raisins 75ml dark rum 12 slices of white bread (or brioche) 400ml vanilla creme anglaise
1 Put the dates, raisins and rum into a small saucepan, then fill with water until the dates are about 1cm beneath the surface.
2 Cook over a low-medium heat until the fruit has become really soft and the water has evaporated, then blitz everything into a fine puree using a stick blender.
3 Let the mixture cool, then spread it over each slice of bread.
4 Line a 1 litre loaf tin with clingfilm, so it hangs over the edge. Press two or three pieces of bread into the bottom of the tin (date side up). Line the sides of the tin with bread too. Pour over some of the creme anglaise. Continue layering with bread and creme anglaise until the tin is full. Press it all down and refrigerate for a few hours, or until the bread has soaked up all of the creme anglaise.
5 Once set, use the overhanging clingfilm to lift the pudding out of its mould, then cut it into thick slices. Pan fry them in butter until golden and crispy on all sides.
Olia Hercules, oliahercules.com
9 DATE LIQUOR AND LAMB
Pulsed dates, tamarind, fresh ginger, black cardamom and cinnamon infuse this succulent, slow-cooked stew with an inticing flavour. Serve alongside sauteed chard flavoured with mustard seeds, lemon and chopped chilli, plus a heap of steaming rice.
100ml sunflower oil 2 onions, finely sliced 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 cinnamon stick 3 black cardamom pods 1 tbsp ground coriander 1kg stewing lamb A pinch of saffron ⅓ tsp cayenne pepper 1 tbsp lemon juice A handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
For the stewing liquor
200g dates, pitted 400ml water 1 tsp tamarind concentrate 25g ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Take all the stewing liquor ingredients and pulse in a blender until you have a loose, jammy consistency, then set aside.
2 In a large casserole, heat the oil over a medium temperature and slide in the onions, garlic, cinnamon and black cardamom, cooking until the ingredients have tanned and the pot is smelling fragrant. Sprinkle in the ground coriander and coat all the ingredients for a minute or two, then pop in the lamb, stirring well. Brown the meat, then reduce the heat a little to a medium-low temperature, cover and cook for 30 minutes, leaving the lamb to relax in its juices.
3 Meanwhile, mix the saffron and cayenne pepper in a small bowl with 1 tbsp of hot water. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then strain it into the pot. Spoon in the stewing liquor, stir well, cover and cook for an hour, or until the lamb is tender and falling apart. Before serving, squish in the lemon juice and stir in the mint leaves for a final flourish.
Ivor Peters, urbanrajah.com
10 DATE, COCONUT AND CHILLI FLATBREAD
A winning trio of flavours: sweet dates, creamy, nutty coconut and sharp flecks of chilli. Perfect for dunking in soup or mopping up juices as part of an Indian feast.
400g strong white flour 7g sachet instant yeast 1 tbsp caster sugar 1 tsp salt 2 tbsp light flavoured oil, plus extra for frying
For the filling
1 tbsp light flavoured oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped 75g desiccated coconut 100g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl, then stir to combine. Pour in the oil, then add 250-300ml tepid water. Bring together to form a soft dough. Tip out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
2 Put the dough in a bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it has roughly doubled in size.
3 Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until golden and softened. Add the garlic and chilli, then continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut and stir to coat in the onion and chilli. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
4 Once the dough has risen, punch it to remove any air, then divide it into 8 equal pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a circle. Place one eighth of the filling in the centre of each circle, gather up the sides and twist the edges to close. Flip the parcels over so the twisted edge is on the underside. Re-roll the dough until each piece is about 15cm in diameter. Set aside.
5 Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add a drop of oil, swirl around the hot pan and tip out any excess. Fry the flatbreads for 2-3 minutes on each side, until large air bubbles appear, and the bread is a little charred in places and cooked through. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Rosie Reynolds, rosiereynolds.co.uk
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