Years ago, before I went veg, I went to this little Persian restaurant that served an appetizer that I had never seen before. It was just a plate of feta, walnuts, and parsley. It became a fast favorite. Something about those flavors and textures just worked.
I don’t remember when or how, but at some point in recent years, I decided it could only be made better by stuffing it into a date. This is more of an idea than a strict recipe because you can make as much or as little as you want. You need to plan ahead to make the “feta”, but once that’s done these are quick and easy. They make a great snack, party finger food , or an appetizer to your favorite Mediterranean meal.
Almond “Feta” Stuffed Dates
- Medjool Dates
- Vegetarian Times Almond Feta (I do it a little differently from the original, so my version is below)
- Walnut Pieces or Halves
- Fresh Parsley
Slit open each date lengthwise and remove pit. Fill with almond “feta”. Smoosh it down so it doesn’t crumble out and so the other ingredients will stick. Place a line of walnut pieces (as pictured) or a walnut half on the feta and top with a leaf of fresh parsley. Can be served immediately or made ahead and served the next day.
- 11/3 cup slivered almonds (these are already blanched)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup cold water
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (or 1 fresh garlic clove)
- 1 ¼ tsp. salt
1. Place almonds in medium bowl and cover with cold water. They will soak up some of the water so give it an inch or two of water above the almonds. Let soak 12 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.
2. Purée almonds, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor until VERY smooth and creamy, at least 6 minutes. Probably more like 10.
3. Place strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth. Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. If yours isn’t very liquid-y, don’t squeeze much or you’ll lose valuable cheese
4. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Put the cheese, strainer and bowl in the refrigerator and chill 12 hours, or overnight. Discard excess liquid. I rarely have any excess liquid beyond a few drops, but the chilling/aging time is important for the taste of the “feta”
5. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick.
6. Bake 80 minutes, or until the cheese has a nice little crust to the top and starts to crack. Cool. Then crumble into a container and chill. I’ve kept this in the refrigerator for about 5 days with no problem. It may keep longer, but it has never lasted that long at my house!