In this Indian-inspired condiment, the richness of the dates gets a lift from the freshness of the mint. It's great with roast meats, and it also makes a simple spread for crostini paired with blue cheese.
In a small bowl, mix the fennel seeds and butter with the back of a spoon. Transfer to a cutting board and chop until the seeds are finely minced.
Put the dates and coconut (if using) in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (but not a paste). Add the fennel-butter mixture and the mint and pulse until the mint is evenly and finely chopped. Set aside.
In a 10-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1/2 tsp. salt and continue cooking until the onions are light golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes.
Turn the heat to low and add the vinegar and 1/2 cup water (it will sputter a bit). Stir until the bubbling subsides and then add the date mixture and stir until well incorporated. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature before serving.
Photo: Scott Phillips