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Makes 24 or enough to serve 6

A classic Spanish bar snack, dates wrapped in bacon are at once sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, and ultimately satisfying. These restaurant-worthy appetizers are perfect for an elegant gathering and come together with very little effort. Manchego is a mild sheep's milk cheese produced in the Spanish region of La Mancha. Chop it finely so it stuffs easily into the dates. Then wrap with bacon and serve with a red pepper-sherry vinegar sauce.

24 dates, pitted
2 ounces manchego, finely chopped
12 pieces bacon, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jar (6.7 ounces drained) roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Stuff dates with manchego and press the edges of the dates lightly to close them. Wrap each date with ½ slice of bacon. Place wrapped dates, seams down, on wire rack.

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3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and golden.

4. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and red peppers. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the garlic is golden.

5. Transfer to a blender. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer to a bowl. Serve dates with the red pepper sauce.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick