My passion for medjool dates is no big secret. Dates are the base of nearly every dessert I make. They’re also frequent guest stars in smoothies, sauces, nut pates, and all sorts of other recipes. When I need to be reminded that nature is capable of producing food that is as good as–nay, better than–the most beloved candy out there, I’ll stuff a pitted medjool date with almond butter for a snack, and be done with it. And when I’m hoping to sweeten something a little more wholesomely than usual, dates are my first choice. They’re incredibly sweet, but they’re also rich in fiber, which helps to slow the absorption of sugar into our bloodstreams. Medjool dates are also a great source of potassium (vital for hydration and cardiac health–and dates have 50% more potassium by weight than bananas) and a good source of iron. Maybe you remember my post on making date paste? To be honest, I don’t actually do this often enough, but it’s delicious, and it’s about a healthy a liquid sweetener as you can find.
Given what a date lover I am, you can imagine how excited I am to be teaming up with Natural Delights, one of the country’s finest and most passionate producers of medjool dates. Natural Delights dates are grown and harvested in and around Bard Valley (where California and Arizona meet). Like all medjool dates, ND medjool dates retain a juicy, plump texture (totally different from harder, smaller deglet dates). They’re incredibly delicious, and the company offers them in a variety of forms: whole and pitted, organic and non-organic, date rolls and other sweet snacks. I was so excited to get a gift box from the company a couple of weeks ago. It hasn’t taken long for my boyfriend and I to work our way through it.
All through this week, I’ll be the featured blogger on the Natural Delights Facebook page. I’ll be answering questions about nutrition, cooking, vegan food, and (of course) working with dates as a featured ingredient. I’ll also be commenting on some of the health properties of dates, like their rich potassium content. It should be great fun, and CR readers are welcome to join in the conversation!
For now, I’m sharing one of a couple recipes I’ve made so far with my ND dates. Last week, I got a bunch of local bing cherries in my From the Farmer produce basket. They were so gorgeous and ripe that I knew I wanted to use them in a special, summery dessert. This crumble, which features an raw topping that’s infused with a couple of superfoods (walnuts, hemp seeds, chia), is easy, quick, and makes a lovely presentation. I think it makes an especially nice presentation in individual serving ramekins or bowls.
- For the Cherry Filling:
- 3 cups cherries, pitted
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- For the Crumble Topping:
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1⅓ cups pitted medjool dates, tightly packed
- 2 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Raw whipped cream, for topping
- Toss the cherries with the maple syrup and lemon juice. Divide them into four ramekins or other small serving bowls.
- In a food processor, pulse together the walnuts, medjool dates, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and salt. Continue pulsing until the mixture is crumbly and broken down, but not quite sticky the way you'd want a snack bar base to be.
- Divide the topping over the four bowls and serve with whipped cream, if desired. If you have extra topping left over, it will work nicely over oats, as a smoothie garnish, or served with fresh berries!
My raw whipped cream would have made a lovely garnish, but I also wanted you to see how fabulous the texture of the crumble topping is:
Those super cute linen placemats, by the way, are courtesy of Food52 provisions. I love them.
I hope you enjoy this easy dessert. I can’t think of a nicer way to celebrate summer fruit, or a simpler reminder that wholesome (and nutritious) ingredients can come together to make a rewarding and delightful treat. Enjoy.