Holiday appetizer: Goat cheese stuffed dates

An easy appetizer that tastes delicious, takes only five minutes to make, and can be prepared hours ahead of the party.

Beyond The Peel
Plump dates stuffed with goat cheese, fresh herbs, and topped with a pecan are an easy and tasty party appetizer. You can also mix and match cheese flavors with citrus and spices of your choice.

As part of our series to do quick and easy appetizers that don’t require a lot of ingredients, I wanted to share this super easy holiday appetizer that is not only super tasty, but so easy to make you’ll feel like a rock star in the kitchen.

Now, there’s nothing new about goat cheese stuffed dates, but often there are recommendations to wrap it in bacon and then to bake it. As tasty as that sounds, as soon as you need to turn on the oven, the difficulty level gets amped up. Not because baking is difficult, but it’s simply one more thing to worry about while entertaining.

With this appetizer you don't need to turn on the oven. It can be made ahead of time and can sit out at room temperature for hours without it effecting the taste or the way they look. They come together in five minutes and can be jazzed up or down. I’ll give you the jazzed down version with some suggestions to spruce it up if you feel like getting your “fancy” on.

Also, I should note that a Medjool date has 70 calories, then the goat cheese and the nut, so do I really need to be baking it with bacon? After all, I’m probably not going to be working out as much as usual during the holidays. I don’t really want to make these into 300 calorie bites!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

12 Medjool dates, pitted

1/3 cup goat cheese

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, chives, parsley or rosemary (optional)

12 pecan halves or nuts of choice (optional), or substitute cranberries or pomegranate seeds for a nut free option

Other variations:

1/2 minced garlic clove and parsley mixed into the goat cheese

or

1 teaspoon orange zest, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tablespoon rummuxed into the goat cheese. Drizzle stuffed dates with maple syrup or honey.

or

1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon chives mixed into the goat cheese. Topped with chopped pistachios.

or

Substitute a mild blue cheese for the goat cheese and top with fresh ground pepper.

or

Substitute Mascarpone for the goat cheese, add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and top with chopped hazelnuts.

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