Millions of Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan from April 12 to May 12, ending in Eid-al-Fitr, a festival of breaking the fast. The spiritual holiday includes daily fasting from sunrise to sunset, and dates are a traditional way to break the daily fast because they’re easily digested, according to Rebecca Seitz, co-owner of Sphinx Date Ranch in Scottsdale.
To that end, Sphinx Date Ranch stocks a full supply of dates in bulk as well as gift trays that include chocolate-covered, pecan-stuffed, walnut-stuffed and coconut rolled dates. “We have a lot of customers sending Ramadan gifts right now as well as people buying dates for breaking daily fasts throughout the month,” Seitz says.
There are many creative ways to incorporate dates while cooking, from date bread to citrus salads to puddings. “You can weave dates into almost any dish,” she says. Seitz shares one of her favorites – a date marinade that caramelizes during the grilling process.
Moroccan-Inspired Date Rub
- 5 Medjool dates (cooking or fancy grade), pitted and quartered
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger (ground)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 steaks, choose your favorite cut, trimmed of excess fat (can also be used with chicken and lamb)
In a small bowl, combine dates and vinegar along with enough water to cover. Let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dates are softened. Add the mixture with the remaining rub ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside 3 tablespoons of rub to use after grilling. Spread the remainder of the rub evenly on both sides of the steaks. Allow the steaks to stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450⁰ to 550⁰ F)
Grill the steaks over high heat with the lid closed until cooked to the desired level. Turn steaks on the grill once or twice – cook for 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the grill and brush the top of the steaks with the reserved paste. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve warm.