Who wants to see something a little less carby and a little more healthy on the party table? Yeah, me too.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates are one of my all-time favorite party snacks. They’re ridiculously easy to make and everyone loves them. People usually eye them for a few minutes because they’re not sure what they are, then say, “wow, that’s so good!” after trying one.
My dear friend Ann Wolter taught me how to make these years ago with fresh figs. She suggested using dates when I couldn’t find fresh figs and I’ve made them this way ever since. Dates are easier to come by and usually easier on the budget, but if you have a pile of fresh delicious figs they work beautifully here, too.
What I love about this healthy appetizer is that it’s a little unexpected, and different from so many bread-heavy appetizers.
Let’s talk Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates ingredients:
Goat cheese: I don’t use a lot of dairy, but one exception I occasionally make is goat cheese. Goat’s milk is full of medium-chain fats that are much easier to digest than cow’s milk. It’s a little tangy and pairs really well with the sweetness of the dates and acid in the balsamic. Use organic goat cheese if you can, but as always just buy the best ingredients you can afford. You can substitute a vegan cream cheese here to make this completely dairy-free and vegan.
Dates: Use Medjool dates here if you can, they are usually a little bigger and more plump. I recently found a big pack of Medjool dates in the produce section of Costco for a really good price. You can also find them at most grocery stores. Dates are a dried fruit that are full of enzymes, minerals and fiber. They do contain a decent amount of natural sugar but they’re much better for you than anything with refined sugar.
Almonds: I prefer plain, not roasted, unsalted almonds here. The crunch of the almonds with the soft dates and cheese make these little bites delightful. The almonds will slightly toast in the oven giving them a really nice flavor. I’ve never tried this with another type of nut, but if you’re allergic to almonds you can leave them out.
Balsamic vinegar: The range in quality of balsamic vinegar goes somewhere between so acidic that it hurts your tongue, to sweet and balanced. Balsamic is one area that you want to get the best you can afford—the longer it’s aged the better. There are also different textures of balsamic and the longer it’s aged, usually the thicker and more syrupy it is. I use the Grand Reserve Balsamic Vinegar from Thrive Market for this dish. It’s thick and drizzles really well, plus, it’s a good price. When buying balsamic, just make sure there isn’t any sugar added to it. A high-quality one will just be balsamic vinegar with no additives. The sweetness and texture comes from the aging process.