The guys who work the vegetable stands in Paris’ open-air markets really know how to reel in new customers. “Goûtez! Goûtez!” they insist (“Taste! Taste!”). I usually obey orders and am often so seduced by the flavor of a juicy Clementine or perfectly ripe strawberry that I end up walking away with a big box. Recently, I found myself toting home an oversized package of dates, wondering what the heck I was going to do with them all now that I had a lifetime supply.

Standing in my kitchen staring at my bounty and feeling a bit lost at sea, I dove into my cookbooks for inspiration. I found a recipe that looked intriguing—cheese-stuffed dates sautéed in olive oil—and decided to take on the challenge of veganizing it. Instead of cheese, I subbed marzipan, a ground-almond-and-sugar paste generally sold in little bricks. The results were remarkably tasty: Caramelized, salty, and slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and nutty on the inside. They take less than five minutes to prepare and make an unique, can't-eat-just-one appetizer for your next wine-and-nibbles soirée.

Salty-Sweet Sautéed Dates

Serves 5

10 dates
1.5 oz. marzipan
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt, to taste

1. Split dates in half lengthwise, and remove pits.

2. Pinch off a marble-sized piece of marzipan and sandwich it between date halves, squeezing to seal. Repeat for each date.

3. Add olive oil to a small saucepan; let warm over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add dates and sautée one minute on each side. 
Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.



Veg fashion blogger Aurelia d’Andrea has devoted a disproportionately large portion of her life to scouring thrift stores, vintage boutiques, and flea markets in search of sartorial treasures, and has a closet full of frocks to prove her passion for the hunt. Going veg taught her to sharpen her style skills, and confirmed what she’d suspected all along: It really is possible to develop a fashionable point of view and keep your ethics intact, too.  She lives in Paris where she blogs (My Vegan Parisian Aventure), writes books (Moon Living Abroad in France), and eats way too many carbs.