Thursday, September 11, 2008

Love Dish: Bacon-Wrapped Date 'Cannolis' with Pine Nuts

As I believe I have confessed before in this forum, I love stuffing things. So awhile back when I came across a recipe for Medjool dates stuffed with ricotta, I knew I'd love them. And then when I came across a recipe for dates stuffed with ricotta and wrapped in bacon, I knew I'd REALLY love them.

After I made them the first time, I was struck by how they looked a bit like mini cannolis, the Italian pastry which is also often filled with ricotta. Cannolis often come with pistachios or chocolate shavings - or pine nuts - pressed into the end for a flourish, so, what with my love of pine nuts in general, not to mention how well they would pair with the sweet/salty/smoky balance of the dates, I figured I'd try putting it all together. And not to brag or anything, but they're pretty freakin' awesome. (This also happens to be my entry into Endless Simmer's Pine Nut Recipe contest). I hope you like them, too!

Bacon-Wrapped Date 'Cannolis' with Pine Nuts
20 Medjool dates
10 strips of applewood smoked bacon
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup dry roasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut off the ends of each date and remove the pit (I do this by poking a chopstick through one end). Fill the corner of a sturdy plastic baggie with the ricotta, twist until taut, and snip off just the very end to make yourself a piping bag. Fill the cavity of each date with the cheese. Cut each of your bacon slices in half so you have 20 strips. Wrap a strip snugly around each date, securing with a toothpick.

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking oil. Arrange the dates on the cookie sheet so that one of the cut sides is facing up. Pipe a bit of the remaining ricotta onto the end of each date (the bacon will serve as a 'lip' so that the cheese will stay in place - see pic).

Press a few pine nuts into each end, and carefully place in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bacon is cooked through and is getting crispy. Serve warm.

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