Christmas Eve this year, it was our turn to host the family gift exchange with Karen’s family. That meant it was our chance to put together some nice Primal dishes and appetizers to show that you can celebrate a holiday without a bunch of breads, pastas, and other not-so-good-for-you dishes. Even the pumpkin pie was primal and 100% gluten-free. (Now don’t get me wrong – there were a couple non-Primal items on the menu as well, mostly in the dessert category – but even those were very low in sugar and other bad stuff compared to your typical holiday fare.) So these next few days, I hope to showcase the dishes we made for this little get together.
One of my favorite appetizers is Bacon Wrapped Dates. Granted, the dates themselves have a pretty high sugar content; mass consumption would not be a recommended practice. But having one or four at a gathering or two during the holidays certainly won’t kill you…that is, if you can beat back everyone else wrestling to get their hands on them as well! And once you see how easy they are to make, I won’t blame you for making a batch in secret every now and again during the year too.
- 1/2 lb pastured thick-cut bacon, cut in half (roughly 20 “half-strips”)
- 20 medjool dates (quantity to match your number of bacon strips)
- 20 toothpicks (again, to match your number of bacon strips)
Start out preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Most of the time, your dates will still have the pits in them. Slice into them with a sharp knife down to the pit, then pop it out with your fingers. At this point, you may choose to add some sort of stuffing to the dates, such as:
- Raw almonds
- Raw hazelnuts
- Bleu cheese (not entirely Primal, but you’re not making a daily habit of eating these, remember?) Try bleu goat’s cheese for a real interesting combo
- Feta cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- you seeing a pattern yet?
In our case, I did about 1/3 with raw almonds, and the rest just plain. Place enough stuffing to fill the cavity left by the pit, then close the date back up (they are sticky enough they seem to just “glue” back together).
Once you’ve got the dates stuffed, wrap each one with a bacon strip and secure the ends with a toothpick pushed through the center. If you’ve got nuts in the middle of the dates, you’ll have to aim the toothpick to miss the nut…it’s much easier then trying to push the toothpick through the nut. Arrange them on a baking pan with sides (like this 15x10x1 stoneware pan).
Pop them in the preheated oven and set the timer for about 30 minutes. Check them when the timer goes off, then adjust additional cooking time to get the bacon to your desired doneness (I would NOT recommend going to full crispy with these, as it makes them hard to keep together when you bite into one). For my oven, 40 minutes was just right. Transfer immediately to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess fat.
Arrange on a festive holiday tray (you know, the one covered with cute little snowmen that you don’t dare use but one week of the year) and serve warm. Of course, you could make a bunch of these up ahead of time and then simply re-heat them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes to get warmed all the way through before your party. Enjoy!