In this dip, dates are cooked until smooth and pulpy with apple and aromatic spices to create a dip to serve with fruit and vegetable pieces. Alternatively, use this as an unusual topping for toast, scones or fruit bread.
3 green cardamom pods
1 large green apple, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup (140g) roughly chopped pitted dried dates
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g ricotta cheese
For serving; wedges of red and green apples, carrot, celery and cucumber sticks, wedges of pineapple, seed-less grapes and slices of star fruit
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Lightly crush the cardamom pods with the flat side of a chef's knife to split them open, then remove the seeds. Discard the pods and crush the seeds with the side of the knife. (This can also be done with a mortar and pestle.)
Put the apple, dates, crushed cardamom seeds, cinnamon and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples are cooked and the dates are pulpy. Stir the mixture occasionally during cooking.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When the apple mixture is cold, beat in the ricotta cheese. Keep, covered, in the refrigerator until needed. (The dip will keep for 3–4 days.)
Serve in a shallow bowl or dish surrounded by an assortment of fruit and vegetable pieces.