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Rancho Meladuco Baked Blue Cheese with Dates and Pancetta

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time20 mins

This dish is riff of the popular baked feta...but we think it's way "betta!" Earthy blue cheese combine with sweet, ripened dates from Rancho Meladuco in California and some salty pancetta. Get dipping!
Serves 4

Baked Blue Cheese

 1 wedge of blue cheese: a stilton or shropshire works well here
 4 oz pancetta, cubed
 1 cup hazelnuts, roasted and coarsely chopped (see note)
 8 Rancho Meladuco Dates, pitted and sliced into coins
 2 tbsp Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 1 baguette, sliced into rounds and toasted

Heat your oven to 425°F.
Pour 1 tbsp Colavita olive oil into a cast iron skillet, and swirl to coat. Add the pancetta and place the skillet in the oven to cook and crisp the pancetta—about 10 minutes.


Remove the skillet from the oven using oven mitts. Place the wedge of blue cheese in the center of the skillet. Sprinkle in the hazelnuts and the dates.


Place the skillet back in the oven until the cheese is very soft and melted, but not bubbling… about 5-7 minutes.


Remove the skillet from the oven, and using a fork, mix the blue cheese in the skillet with the pancetta, dates and hazelnuts.


Serve with slices of toasted baguette.


NOTE: To roast hazelnuts, heat your oven to 425°F. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Then take a clean dish towel, and rub the hazelnuts with it to remove the skins. Discard the skins and chop the roasted hazelnuts, reserving any extras in a sealed container.


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