If you've been to my house at any point in recent months, you've likely had these dates. They take only slightly more effort to make than placing dates unadorned on a plate. And, there must be something unusually captivating about them because people always ask me how to make them. I think the idea stems from a flight I took years ago from San Francisco to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was sitting next to a young man, dressed head to toe in hemp, on his way to a spiritual retreat. :) We started chatting, and he offered me a date from little plastic baggie. He proceeded to tell me the dates were an Ayurvedic staple for him on flights. Massaged with ghee, ginger, and saffron, they weren't pretty in the plastic baggie, but they were a flavor revelation. In this version I soak saffron in a small amount of almond extract, and toss it with melted ghee (or clarified butter) and dates. I usually opt out of the ginger. Place the dates in an oven-proof baking dish and broil just long enough for the insides of the dates to get unctuous and tacky, just long enough that the skins start caramelizing. Serve warm. They're good as part of a cheese spread, or as a sweet bite at the end of a meal - simple with a bit of a wink.
Also! I've started to post event information related to Near & Far on this events page. I hope to see, meet, and chat with many of you at each of them! Event information here. xo -h
Broiled Saffron Dates
Tip: If you don't have almond extract on hand, you can certainly use another alcohol-based extract - vanilla, rose or orange blossom, etc. Saffron is alcohol soluble, and you get great extraction with a quick splash/soak.
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch saffron
1 1/2 tablespoons melted ghee or clarified butter, or extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch flaky sea salt or(!) smoked sea salt
Heat the oven to 350F / 175C, with a rack placed in the top third.
In a tiny bowl, pour the almond extract over the saffron. Jostle or stir until the saffron releases its color. Let sit a minute or so. Stir the saffron mixture into the ghee / olive oil.
Place the dates in an ovenproof baking dish. Pour the saffron mixture over the dates and toss to coat. Arrange the dates in a single layer, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and place in the oven. Let cook for 5 minutes or so, long enough that the dates heat through. At this point switch to the broiler - broil just until the tops of the dates darken a bit, not long at all. Serve warm. If you transfer the dates to a separate serving dish be sure to re-drizzle with the saffron oil - it's the good stuff!
Makes 12 dates.
Prep time: 5 minutes - Cook time: 5 minutes