Stupor Bowl Party Food

If you are a die-hard football fan, before you get too upset over the title of this post, it is tongue in cheek so don’t take it too seriously and get offended. Sure most of the people invited to this party could really care less about football, myself included, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the game. I appreciate the strength, speed, agility and strategy of the players and am happy that most of America revels in sport, but I’m not going to pretend to love football, but I do love food! A Stupor Bowl Party has all the good things about a regular Super Bowl Party, the food & friends, but lacks the emphasis on the football part.

This particular group of party-goers presents quite the challenge when it comes to choosing which foods to make. Most of the group is vegetarian, pescetarian or semi-vegetarian. I LOVE cooking veg-friendly food so this is no problem, I have a whole arsenal of tasty veggie meals up my sleeve. Things get interesting when you add lactose-free and gluten-free to the list of dietary restrictions. I thought of the great Greek Quinoa Salad that I made last week, then I remembered that the star ingredient in that vegetarian and gluten-free dish was feta. Scratch that idea off the list because it doesn’t meet the lactose-free requirement. Sure there are vegan cheese alternatives, but the choices where I live are limited and expensive, and let’s face it some things just taste better with the real deal. Back to the drawing board.

I secretly love the challenge of finding recipes that meet this limited criteria. It is like a game and you have to use creative thinking and problem-solving skills to come up with the right solution.

While thumbing through Whole Living at Barnes & Noble on Friday night, a recipe for Pistachio-Stuffed Dates with Coconut piqued my interest. I love simple, clean recipes with minimal ingredients and this one met that criteria.

The original recipe did not specify which kind of pistachios to use – raw or roasted. No problem, I was up for experimenting and tried both varieties. The two kinds I used were Wonderful Roasted & Salted Shelled Pistachios and Valued Naturals Raw Pistachio Kernels (found in the produce section of my grocer).

Closeup of Comparison

Raw Pistachio Nuts Go For a Spin in The Food Processor

My experiment produced two strikingly different results. The most noticeable difference was the color. Although both nuts looked fairly the same in their whole state (the roasted variety leaning towards a golden brown), once processed into a paste the roasted variety looked brown, far from the pistachio’s signature green color. Mr. Nine said it looked like poop. I thought it looked like a brown nut butter (similar to almond butter) with a tinge of green but I agree it was a little unappetizing just sitting in a pile on a plate. 🙂

Roasted & Raw Pistachio Nut Comparison

Roasted & Raw Pistachio Nut Comparison

The raw pistachios yielded a much brighter green color which I think is important when dealing with a dish where pistachios are a primary ingredient. Notice how shiny both are? This is how you want them to be so make sure you process a full 3-5 minutes, or until it releases oils and forms a paste-like nut butter consistency. I used a KitchenAid 7-Cup Food Processor that did a terrific job with this.

Pistachio Nuts 2

Closeup of Comparison

Comparing the taste of the two, the raw tasted slightly better. Final Score: Raw Nuts 1, Roasted Nuts 0.

Now that I had a winning nut butter/paste, I stuffed one of the dates and topped with shredded coconut like the recipe instructed. It was finally time for a quick taste test. The verdict? The flavor was good, but the texture left much to be desired. The texture of the date and pistachio butter were so similar and even though the coconut was toasted, it did little to provide overall texture variation. In the mouth it felt like a soft, squishy and sticky sweet glob. It was also very rich using the whole date. Sure you could take 2 bites, but let’s be realistic, most people would just pop the whole thing in their mouth and it was just too much of a sticky sweet glob to chew.

The recipe had potential but needed improvement. Mr. Nine suggested adding in some coarsely chopped pistachios. Back to the food processor, I pulsed some more of the raw pistachios until they were chopped small, yet not too fine. Next I added the crunchy chopped pistachios to the smooth creamy puréed ones.

Pistachio Nuts 4

Half Pistachio Nut Purée, Half Chopped Pistachios

Just a gentle stir to combine and now I think we are almost ready to assemble!

Pistachio Stuffed Dates 1

Ingredients Ready to Assemble

At this point I also decided to cut the dates in half around the circumference. The original recipe showed the date split open length-wise and filled like a stuffed baked potato but that was just too much date for one bite. Cutting them around the center provided two nice halves with perfectly hollowed-out centers. I used kitchen shears to cut around the date, but a small paring knife would work fine.

Stuffing each “mini date bowl” was quick and easy. Since the medjool dates are both flexible and sticky, you can smoosh them onto the plate and the bottoms will stick keeping them upright. Finally I topped them with toasted shredded coconut (to toast shredded coconut: place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes). I used sweetened shredded coconut because that is what I had, but the date is already very sweet so I’d recommend using unsweetened if you can find it (it is hard to find in stores here!). It will taste good either way, but it is always nice to exclude the extra sugar that comes from the sweetened variety and keep the recipe clean.

Pistachio Stuffed Dates 2

Closeup of Pistachio-Stuffed Medjool Dates

Another view to show size (a regular sized dinner plate is used here).

Pistachio Stuffed Dates 3

Ready for Party Munching - The Coconut is Edible Confetti

They are truly bite-sized sweet treats!

These would be fine to keep at room temp for a day, but if you plan on making a batch to munch on throughout the week, you’d want to refrigerate them in an air-tight container.

RECIPE

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Pistachio-Stuffed Medjool Dates
Adapted from Whole Living Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios, divided
  • 12 medjool dates
  • 2 T shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, puree 1/2 cup pistachios until it forms a thick paste. This should take between 3-5 minutes. At first the mixture will look like very fine crumbs, but let it continue to process. You’ll start to see a thick paste build up on the sides of the food processor’s container and you’ll see that the nuts are starting to release their oils. You know it is done when it is paste-consistency and has a slight glossy sheen. Scoop nut butter/paste into small bowl and set aside.
  2. Next, add the other 1/2 cup of pistachios to the food processor. Pulse several times until the nuts are chopped into small pieces.
  3. Fold the chopped pistachio nuts into the bowl with the pistachio nut paste until just combined. Set aside.
  4. Next you’ll pit the dates. Make a cut around the circumference of each date and then twist each end in opposite directions. The two ends should pull away from the pit. You’ll have two halves of the date with a nice hollow center.
  5. Fill each date half with the pistachio filling and top with toasted shredded coconut.

Yield: 24 date bites

Notes: Use raw pistachios (usually found in the produce or health food section, not the regular nut aisle) for best flavor and color. You may also use sweetened coconut, although I’d recommend unsweetened because it does not contain added sugar. Depending on big your dates are, there may be extra nut filling leftover.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

There you have it! A simple, healthy, naturally sweet treat made with just 3 ingredients.

In addition to the date bites, we also made fresh fruit skewers…

Fruit Kabobs

Fruit Skewers/Sticks/Kabobs

…and hazelnut torte.

Hazelnut Torte

Nutella-Drizzled Hazelnut Torte

The rest of the food at the party was even more delicious. We had a wonderful gluten-free chili mac (it had roasted cauliflower!), blueberry goat cheese (not dairy free, but very delicious!) and the dish that I got most excited about…

Grilled Avocados

Grilled Avocados by A & P

Grilled avocados! This picture does not do them justice. Okay, I am partial to loving avocados so it was natural that I got geeked about this, but they were truly delicious. Our friends who made these brushed the avocados with grape seed oil and grilled them for a few minutes until they got grill marks and were nice and warm throughout. After they had some grill love, they got a shower of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Next the centers were filled with salsa verde and topped with sour cream (optional). You eat these right out of the shells and they are creamy and warm with a little tang from the salsa.

It is nice to have such a great group of foodie friends who also appreciate and care about healthy and good made-from-scratch food. This Super Stupor Bowl party spread sure beat the typical buffalo wings and Rotel cheese dip (I can’t believe I use to eat that stuff). I mean what is Velveeta cheese made out of anyway? Heck, it is not even with the other cheese at the grocery store, it sits on a shelf in the canned food aisle. Hmmm… food for thought.

Did you go to a Super Bowl party? What was your favorite dish?

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Categories: Food | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Stupor Bowl Party Food

  1. Anna

    Great blog Beth! Thanks for sharing the amazing stuffed dates recipe. We’re glad to have the Gregory’s in our lives. Goodies unite!

  2. That’s so strange how the pistachos could end up looking so different! Weird! I’ve actually never had a pistacho butter or anything like that but I LOVE regular pistachios!

    • I call it nut butter in my post, but what I made was just puréed pistachios so it was thicker like a paste. You can make a pistachio butter for general eating purposes, but you would need to add a little oil and honey so that it would spread like a more traditional nut butter. Puréeing just the pistachios by themselves like I did is great for stuffing dates (or chocolate!) but would not spread nicely on bread and would be bland by itself (hence adding honey for sweetness). If you try it, let me know!

  3. Those pistachio stuffed dates look delicious!! I’ll need to try that recipe.

  4. Since my husband was away for work, I stayed home so my babies could be in bed on time. I had the game on in the background so at least I could know who won. I was really craving some buffalo chicken dip though! I need to try roasted avocados as I am trying to add more healthy fats to my diet!

  5. These look delicious! I love how you did the experiment to determine which kind of nuts worked best.

    And I never would have thought to grill avocados – brilliant.

  6. I heard that you had a stuffed date recipe, so I had to come check it out! I am heading out for a long bike ride this weekend and I want to use unprocessed, healthy food for my energy instead of bars or gels. I am going to make these up to snack on, I think Mr. P will like them too, he loooooves pistachios 🙂 I love that you took the time to experiment with the nuts and shape of the dates, its very American Test Kitchen of you 🙂

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