The great date – what’s not to love? They’re sweet, versatile and are just as tasty in both savoury and sweet dishes; there really are no limits to their foodie power. They’re also a great source of energy, fiber, natural sugars and protein, include essential minerals like calcium and iron and are good for digestion and, when fresh, are an excellent source of vitamin C. A popular way to break fast at iftar and delicious at any time of year, here’s a collection of recipes that give them the round of applause they deserve:
Baked mackerel with date butter, tabbouleh and chermoula
Mackerel is not only loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids that keep your heart in tip top condition but when baked, is a healthier alternative to fried fish. The sweet date butter will balance out the saltiness of these fillets beautifully. You can also buy tabbouleh from our deli, you know, incase you wanted to speed things up.
Dates stuffed with crispy lamb, feta, pomegranate and mint
Stuffed dates are a staple at any iftar spread and these appetizing numbers fit the bill superbly. A winning partnership that remains unbeaten, lamb and feta work in harmony to contrast with the syrupy fruit. Taste test: 10/10.
Spiced baby chicken with couscous salad
If you’re after a bit of a kick at dinnertime, this may be just what you’re looking for. Thinly sliced dates give the fluffy couscous a sweet edge that contrasts perfectly against the fiery flavoured meat; a delicious offering and sure favourite around the table.
Grilled aubergine steaks with pearl barley salad and labneh
This veggie special has all one needs for a winning dish – soft eggplant, creamy labneh, pearl barley, lemon zest, garlic, spring onions, pomegranate jewels and our current favourite ingredient, dates.
Persian mutton stew with saffron rice
Arriving at the table and being met with a rich bowl of stew is almost indescribable, especially when dates are part of the mix. Easily frozen for an upcoming iftar, or indeed, another evening when inspiration is lacking, this recipe wins on taste, texture and convenience. Every. Single. Time.
Date and baby spinach salad
Among the heartier meal options on this list, this refreshing salad is a welcomed lighter addition. The spinach provides a great source of iron and protein – this is where the majority of its calories come from (of which there are very little!) – and the lemon juice gives it some extra zing.
Labneh cheesecake with honey, nuts and figs
With 150g of pitted dates in its biscuit bottom, this is one cheesecake with a cool, fruity edge.
Orange, date and walnut cookies
Simple to make, the dough is easily freezable… when you’re after a quick-fix sweet treat, this is the dessert for you. Simply remove from its icy home and bake in the oven – guests won’t suspect a thing.
Rice and date syrup pudding (zardat dibis wa haleeb)
Thick, fresh cream and sumptuous pudding rice come together in a satisfying dessert that’s worthy of its two hours prep time. Enjoy after a slow-cooked joint of meat for an unapologetically indulgent feast.
Trio of date petits fours
Milk chocolate, honey, almonds, cinnamon, walnuts and pistachios… we’re salivating at the thought. These little tastes of perfection are ideal for any iftar spread and don’t take a lifetime to make. No one will blame you if, mysteriously, there are none left for anyone else.
Salted date caramel brownie stack with tahini buttercream
The pièce de résistance. Culinary glory (because sometimes you just want all the credit) is awarded in abundance at the sight of this stack of chocolatey excellence. You’re sure to score more than a few brownie points – even more than the layers of brownie themselves.