At once sweet, smoky, and salty, the little brown nuggets are a crowd pleaser, the perfect pick-up nibble to offer with cocktails. To make small shards of Parmesan cheese, cut them from a wedge of cheese with a sharp knife. Serve them hot from the oven while the cheese is still warm and watch how fast they disappear. Advance preparation: Make up to 1 day ahead through step 1, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.
|18 large Medjool dates||6 slices apple-cured bacon, each cut into thirds|
|18 pieces Parmesan cheese, each about 1 inch by 1/4 inch||1 bunch parsley, stems removed, for garnish|
Variations: Arrange the dates on top of mixed greens dressed with vinaigrette for an unusual first course. Substitute different cheeses such as dry Sonoma Jack or Pecorino Toscano.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Slit each date along one side and carefully remove the pit. Insert a piece of Parmesan into each slit. Wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed date and secure with a toothpick. Place the dates on a baking sheet.
Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the bacon on top is crisp. Using tongs, turn the dates and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. Transfer the dates to a double layer of paper towels to drain.
Place the parsley bunch in the center of a round serving platter and arrange the dates around the parsely. Serve immediately.
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