Sautéed Dates With Olive Oil and Sea Salt
Serves variable amount.
Note: Molly Wizenberg calls these a "back pocket trick" because they're quick, elegant and endlessly adaptable. They make a great appetizer as well as a dessert and are lovely in a salad of butter lettuce, oranges, pistachios and shredded Parmigaino-Reggiano. They're also nice for breakfast "in a puddle of cold plain yogurt." "What follows is the basic method, not so much a recipe. Cook as many or as few dates as you'd like," she says. I've enjoyed them several different ways and can attest, they're really good.
• Olive oil
• Whole dried Medjool dates
• Crunchy sea salt (Maldon or fleur de sel)
Place a heavy skillet over medium heat, and pour in enough olive oil to lightly film the bottom of the pan. When the oil is warm and runs loosely around the pan, add the dates, taking care not to crowd them. Cook, turning the dates frequently so that they heat on all sides and they feel hot (careful!) to the touch. They should cook fairly gently; if they're taking on color, reduce the heat or turn them more often. Because of their high sugar content, dates can scorch easily, so keep an eye on them. You're just briefly warming and softening them, encouraging them to absorb richness and flavor from the olive oil.
Transfer the hot dates to a serving dish, and drizzle them with some olive oil from the skillet. Salt generously if you plan to serve them on their own, lightly if you're serving them in a salad or with yogurt.