I am not sure if dates have ever been quite as popular as they are at the moment. They are being used as a substitute for raw and refined sugars quite a lot, like this delicious caramel and dark chocolate slice I made here or this amazing date and custard tart. Have you been cooking with dates?
I recently wrote a whole lot of recipes using dates including a few savoury ones like this Mexican Inspired Chicken with Dates. Doesn’t it look delicious?. Dates take on flavours very easily and their texture when cooked down forms a great paste. They are actually extremely delicious with spices and chilli. It’s sweet and spicy and flecked with chillies and all goes together so well. Add cheese or sour cream if you like.
Dates grow on palm trees and were thought to have originally grown along the banks of the Nile and Euphrates Rivers in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but are now grown on every continent on earth. 100 gm of dates is approximately 277 calories but along with the calories are much needed dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
I have an Egyptian friend who enthrals me with tales of growing up in Egypt where the dates are huge and plump and are made into dozens of varieties of pastries.
So the dates fresh or dried for this recipe are melted down into the ultimate spicy, herby sweet yet savoury paste for this tender chicken. It is completely delicious with a fresh salsa containing lime and coriander.
It is totally perfect served in burritos as a wrap or rolled up and baked. You could also serve it with some Mexican inspired rice. You could even save it for the next day for lunch rolls or burritos, honestly it’s plain damn delicious. Just make sure you eat it with loads of chillies.
Look out for more date recipes
- Set the oven to 190-200 C/ 400 F. Prepare an oven tray lined with baking paper.
- 1 kg ( or 6) boneless chicken thigh fillets
- 6- 8 burritos
- 150 gm fresh (or even dried) dates (3/4 cup) cut in ½ and de seeded
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano ( a nice strong Mexican or Greek one)
- 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 2- 3 Tablespoons Chipotle Salsa(* )
- 3 Tablespoons vinegar - (white or red wine)
- 400 gm crushed tomatoes ( 1 tin including the juice)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 2 ripe tomato diced into small cubes ( 1 cup)
- ½ Spanish onion, diced
- ½ cup sliced fresh coriander
- 1 small avocado diced.
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Tablespoon lemon or lime
- 50-100 gm grated cheddar cheese
- To start put the dates, spices, chipotle salsa, salt, vinegar and tomatoes into a medium pot and put on a low heat. Stir and squash the dates as they heat. They need to break down and purée into the sauce.
- Taste it and add salt if needed. Set aside to cool a bit .
- Make the salsa by adding the tomatoes, onions and coriander. and stirring together in a bowl. Set aside ( I like to Dice the onion and stand in boiling water for two minutes to take out the heat, before draining and adding to the salsa)
- Put the chicken into the marinade and coat very liberally. Put each piece onto the tray and add a bit more marinade if there is some left. ( discard the remainder- don't use unless it is cooked)
- Bake the chicken for 15 - 20 minutes. Test one of the thighs in the thickest part to ensure they are cooked through. if a little pink put back into the oven for another 5-8 minutes.
- Serve the chicken with burritos and salsa and grated cheese.