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datesfinal2This recipe is so easy, why I don’t make these more often?! Sausage and bacon how can this be wrong? Right?! This is a GREAT appetizer to serve guests before any dinner party. You will completely stump them and leave them guessing at exactly what they are eating. The date is so rich and yummy when baked it mimics a savory meat. The flavors work so well together. When we had this as an appetizer at ATAVOLA, I just knew I had to make these at home.

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You will need:

  • 16 large dates
  • 1 cup approx. of ground sausage (I used breakfast sausage)
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara
  • 16 toothpicks
  • 12oz bacon (raw)
  • small baking pan for oven (cast iron if you have it)

I made 16 of these beauties but you can trim down the recipe or bulk it up as you desire with the ingredients I have given you. Let me warn you of one thing though, no one will eat just one.

For this recipe I chose breakfast sausage because I love the sage and spices that this sausage has, and I wanted every flavor element to come through from dates to bacon to sauce. Sometimes when I use Italian sausage those spices can over power, but you can use your preference if Italian sausage is your favorite.

dates3First thing to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Next, take your dates out and slit them lengthwise, down the center of each date but do not cut all the way through. It will resemble a hot dog bun ready for filling. Remove the pits if you didn’t get pitted. I did I am a sucker for easy!

dates2Slice the bacon in half making shorter slices of bacon. Next we are ready to stuff each of the dates. Note: You do not have to cook the sausage prior to stuffing, everything will cook through with this recipe.

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Take a teaspoon full of the sausage and stuff the date full. It will not close all the way and that is just fine as we have bacon to take care of that!  I am a firm believer bacon fixes everything, we everything but me fitting into my jeans.

dates6Take each stuffed date and wrap in one of the halved slices of bacon, rolling completely around the date.

dates7dates8dates9Once all of the dates have been rolled, place them in a stove/oven safe pan to sear them off in. I used a small cast iron pan. Place then seam down in the pan, snug is fine.

(*If by chance you do not have a pan that doubles as both or one is too large etc. Just sear the dates off in any stove top frying pan and transfer into your oven safe dish, or pan. even a cake pan will work for the oven. There are always easy fixes. Everyone will have dates!)

dates10Heat the dates on the stove on medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp and then turn over each date searing the other side. My picture did NOT turn out for this part

When you are satisfied with the color on your bacon, pour about 1-2 cups of sauce over the dates until covered.

dates11dates12Bake the dates for for about 30-40 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken and almost adhere to the dates. This makes for rich gravy that looks brûléed over the dates and it is soooo good.

dates13Remove the oven, stick each date with a toothpick and serve warm. I like to serve them right in the pan with a trivet underneath. This keeps the dish nice and warm.  My husband was stumped the first time he tried these, wondering how a date could transform into this wonderful mouthful. He now asks for this every holiday and every dinner occasion, but coming the from the man who asks for pizza three times a week this is not surprising.  He loves anything with sauce.

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I hope you enjoy this as much as we did and as always let me know how you liked it or if you have any questions!

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