Cooking What I Want

Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates

By • March 26, 2014 • 7 Comments

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When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.

Today: A citrus salad to tide you over until spring really comes -- and the stuffed dates you'll want to eat always.

3 AM. My eyes fly open. I'm not sure who or what is to blame -- my coughing son, my snoring dog, my hormones, the loud drunken dude passing by our house, the mini earthquake -- but here I am, at 3 AM, staring at the ceiling, electrically awake. I am a vibrating blob of neuroses. I am slowly slipping over to the dark side. 

First I go through the minor stuff. Compost must go out tomorrow. Need more floss. Don't forget to make crêpes for the school party.

Then I jog through the annoyances. What in the world is that smell in the living room? Do I need to report those neighbors with the crazy dog? Where is my favorite potato peeler?

Then I get to the rants. The short-short denim shorts being sold in every single store that I can't wear because, well, they're just too short. Eleven-year-old kids glued to their iPods. Those new Jacked Doritos -- I mean what's wrong with original nacho cheese? And why didn't someone protect Justin Bieber from the perils of fame?

And then I drop into a full-scale tailspin about pesticides and antibiotics and too many cars and global warming. I breathe for my sick grandmother. I ache for my friend whose father just died. I worry about foster kids everywhere, the passengers on that missing Malaysian airliner, and the drama unfolding in Ukraine. 

I want to wake up my kids and kiss them. I want my husband to come home from his business trip so that I can hold his hand and hear his breath. I want to pull myself out of this ugly quicksand and find my way back to my dreams. 

I roll out of bed, walk down the hall, and enter the kitchen. 

I consider a shot of vodka. 

I reconsider. 

I stare at the daffodils and the platter of citrus on my kitchen table. I smile at the explosion of yellows and oranges glowing in the moonlight.

I feel recalibrated.

I return to bed and drift off to sleep assembling over and over again a salad of sliced navel oranges, broiled dates stuffed with goat cheese, and toasted almonds. I make the salad for lunch the next day. And the next. Until all of the citrus is gone and the daffodils are wilted.

Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates

Serves 1, generously 

1 shallot, diced
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 pitted dates
1/4 cup goat cheese (fresh and creamy, not aged)
A splash good balsamic 
2 navel oranges (or Cara Cara or juice oranges)
1 seedless tangerine
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon slivered blanched almonds, lightly toaste
Lemon zest (preferably made with a zester, but a Microplane is fine)
8 parsley leaves

See full recipe (and save it and print it) here.  

Photos by Phyllis Grant 

Jump to Comments (7)

Tags: cooking what I want, dashandbella, oranges, dates, salad, recipe

Comments (7)


6 months ago mommychef

so delicious! I made it for my supper at work and then I was late because I ate it and had to make it again, totally worth it.


6 months ago SeattleDee

Food therapy that's delicious and gorgeous! Still smiling at your electric awake rants - you brightened my day.


6 months ago michelle

Ah, your writing. Amazingness squared.


6 months ago Colleen Rogers

Well done, and so true (you rock!). Can't wait to add this to the mix. Thanks!


6 months ago Melina Hammer

Ah, you. So good. The broiled dates pique my intrigue…. and I just happen to have some. From a friend who brought them back from Iran! Do you think taleggio would work? I have some leftover from a job, and well, it has to go someplace….


6 months ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I made this last night and it was sublime. I want it again tonight.


6 months ago Kate

This was really touching — thank you. I love stories about food helping people cope emotionally, though they are almost always sad. The touch of hope at the end of your essay is just beautiful.