New Ingredients in our Spring Kitchen + 3 Recipes
by Laura Frerichs, Tastemaker in Residence
Even organic vegetable farmers have a sweet tooth now and again, and with a new baby and the farming season ramping up, I often find myself craving sweets and sugar for a quick energy boost. I definitely appreciate a good cookie or donut every so often, but I'm really looking for nutrient-dense treats as well so will turn to fresh dates to satisfy my cravings for a sweet, caramely flavor and texture. Over ten years ago now, when I was first starting to work on farms, I spent a month on an organic date ranch in southern California. The ranch grew the most delicious dates and I got to familiarize my tastebuds with the meaty medjools, the sweet deglets, and the creamy barhis. It was a treat to be able to see how dates were produced (they grow on big palm trees!) and sample the wide variety of fresh dates available.
I was quite intrigued with a spinach salad recipe recently featured in the NY Times that incorporated dates and almonds in a fresh spinach salad seasoned with the Middle Eastern spice sumac. I also appreciate how dates are used as a natural sweetener in two dessert recipes, a very decadent vegan take on the "twix bar", and in the satisfying banana bread muffin top recipe. Make sure that you buy fresh dates (all recipes here call for Medjools), not dried date pieces. Fresh dates can be found in the refrigerated section of many natural food stores. They are truly one of nature's best candies.
Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds Courtesy of the NY Times
Vegan Twix Bars with Date Caramel Courtesy of ohsheglows.com
Banana Bread Muffin Tops Courtesy of ohsheglows.com