Umm…I think I might have just died and gone to heaven.
Uh “genius?” yes.
“pretty much the best thing ever?” double yes.
In fact, I literally almost cried as I sifted through the beauty of this slippery sweet and sensationally salty concoction.
Appetizers don’t have to be much to be perfect. The best ones require nothing more than plating: a platter of olives, or cured meats and cheeses, or whole radishes with butter and salt. These are what people really want to eat before dinner.
An ideal pre-meal meal should be inherently pretty (without having to form any sort of ball or log), and dramatic enough in flavor and texture to prod your appetite. It should be bite-sized, communal, and inviting of conversation (“Are these from the salami of the month club?” “Did I ever tell you about the first time I dipped radishes in butter?” and so on.) Olives will do.
Appetizers like these are a free pass, and we might as well take it. Because when we don’t have to mix and mold and garnish or keep anything crisp, we can focus on the rest of the evening — whether that’s a multi-stage dinner party, or just sitting around the TV clinking coupes and missing Joan Rivers.
Renee Erickson’s sautéed dates are one of these effortless treats, but also have the benefit of being entirely unexpected (go conversation go!). Dates don’t need to be stuffed with anything or wrapped in bacon to be a convincing appetizer — they just need a little framing.
and the best part of it all ~
On their own, dates can be almost too sweet, which is why many of us rarely think of them at all, or blend them up into breads or shakes as a natural sweetener. But once harnessed with a little salt, the sugar stops being overwhelming and the winey, butterscotch-y nuances become clear. We’re familiar here with salting in the form of bacon or goat cheese, but it could also just be salt.
Serves as many as you like
- Sharp extra-virgin olive oil
- Dates, unpitted (count on 4 to 5 per person as an appetizer)
- Flaky sea salt
- Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Fill the pan with dates and cook, turning them a few times, just until they’ve warmed through. (They burn easily, so don’t overdo it.) Serve them on a plate with flaky sea salt.