- 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Pinch of finely grated lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 large Medjool dates (about 1/2 pound)
- 6 paper-thin slices of speck or prosciutto (1 1/2 ounces total), cut in half crosswise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone, lemon juice, honey and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Make a slit in each date and remove the pit. Carefully fill each date with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mascarpone mixture. Wrap a slice of speck around each date and secure with a toothpick.
- In a nonstick, ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the dates and cook over high heat until the ham is crisp on the bottom, about 30 seconds. Turn the dates. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 2 minutes, or until the dates are heated through and the centers are slightly runny. Discard the toothpicks and transfer the dates to a plate. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
Vodka martini with almond-stuffed olives.