Ancient Roman Stuffed Dates


Welcome! Today we prepare a dish from the ancient Roman cookbook attributed to Marcus Gavius Apicius, the most famous cook of the Antiquity. This is one of the few sweets of Apicius, dates stuffed with walnuts and pine nuts, then coated with warm honey. The filling, without sweeteners and peppered just a little, and the sprinkle of a pinch of salt on the dates balance the sweetness of the coating and create a slight and tasty contrast of flavors.
The author includes this recipe among the dulcia domestica, the sweets made at home. However, sweets were always present on wealthy Roman tables as the secundae mensae, that means the second part of a banquet – whereas the primae mensae were the main courses, preceded by the promulsis: the appetizers that accompanied the mulsum, a wine prepared with honey and grapes. Dates, nuts, and honey were staple ingredients not only for preparing the sweets, but also for cooking sauces, meat, and fish.
You find below the original recipe and the translation.

pine nuts
black pepper
coarse sea salt

Datteri 1

Grind in the mortar the black pepper, the walnuts, and the pine nuts. We suggest using half walnuts and half pine nuts, with a little amount of pepper, but Apicius doesn’t give us the ratio. Now, remove the stones from the dates and stuff them carefully with the paste, then grind and sprinkle on the dates a pinch of sea salt.
Heat up the honey in a pan reducing it by 20% of volume, then cook for about 20 seconds the dates until they are coated with the sauce. When they cool down, plate and serve.

Datteri 2 b.jpg

Original recipe
Dulcia domestica: palmulas vel dactylos* excepto semine, nuce vel nucleis vel pipere trito infercies. Sale foris contingis, frigis in melle cocto, et inferes.

Home-made sweets: dates without the stone. Stuff them with walnuts, pine nuts, and ground pepper; sprinkle with salt, cook into reduced honey and serve.

* Two kind of dates

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