There is this restaurant that I just love in Aliso Viejo, CA called Opah. It’s kind of my “go to” place for good food and great lemon drop martini’s. You say “hey let’s meet for drinks after work” and I say “Opah”! Usually when we go there we are in time for happy hour and it never fails that we’ll order their bacon wrapped dates. Hence this post was inspired. I haven’t been to Opah in a few weeks so I was somewhat “jonesing” for these little morsels.
I decided to give my own twist to my favorite happy hour appetizer bacon wrapped dates w/goat cheese and rosemary almonds. It’s a mouthful I know, but so are these luscious flavored dates with a subtle taste of goat cheese and a crisp Marconi almond in the middle. The drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Did I mention that the almond has rosemary and sea salt all over it too?!
Is your mouth-watering yet?
Did you know there is an International Bacon Day? Yep, that’s right. How cool is that? It’s the Saturday before Labor Day Monday. Click here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Bacon_Day. This idea of an International Bacon Day was what spurred my interest to revive my love of these little goodies.
They take a little time, but they are well worth the effort.
12 pieces of bacon (half a piece per date)
24 dates (if they aren’t pitted when you buy them, make sure to pit them before you stuff them)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of Goat Cheese (depends on how much you want to stuff the dates)
24 Marconi almonds – rosemary flavored (I bought these at Trader Joes), but any roasted almond will do if you can’t find these kind
Balsamic reduction sauce – again I bought a bottle from Trader Joes, but there are plenty of recipes on the internet or you can buy one you that prefer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pit dates if they don’t already come pitted. To pit, just make a tiny slice in the date and pull out the pit. Then stuff the date with as much or as little goat cheese as you would like. I personally am a fan of goat cheese so mine were stuffed to the edge. Next take one almond and stuff it in to the middle of all that yummy goat cheese. Close it shut.
Then take half a strip of bacon and place it on a cutting board, now place the date at the end of the piece of bacon and start rolling it up.
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If you feel that it won’t stay together you can always put a toothpick through them to hold them together. But make sure you soak the toothpicks in water before hand so that they won’t burn when you place them in the oven.
Now, put all the wrapped dates in a frying pan that is safe for the oven. I personally prefer to use a cast iron skillet, but you can use whatever pan or baking dish you would like. Drizzle the top of the dates with the balsamic reduction sauce and bake for 15-20 min. Or until bacon looks crispy/done. If you’d like you can turn the dates over half way through the cooking time to get them crispy all over.
When they have about 30 seconds left to go switch the temperature over to broil and really crisp those babies up for 5-7 minutes. This will really help finish off the bacon as well as get that balsamic reduction nice and gooey.
Let them cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Be careful, these little beauties get really hot in the oven. I have burned my tongue on more than one occasion because I was so happy to be eating them that I forgot how hot they can get.