Cooking with grapes


The wine grape harvest is winding down on the mainland, and corks are popping as chefs present their creative food and wine pairings at harvest dinners. Cookbooks abound on how to pair wine and food, but wine grapes are not the only grapes available for our dining pleasure. An abundance of quality table grapes this season has motivated me to harvest a bunch of delicious recipes to enjoy grapes at my dinner table. Besides being low in calories, these sweet little jewels offer some vitamins A and C and a fair amount of potassium. So even if you don’t drink wine, you can enjoy the fruit of the vine … no glass required.

Green grape parsley relish

This relish is great with any main dish from fish to chicken to meat. I’ve even served it with quesadillas. It’s got an interesting mix of flavors, with vinegar and garlic balanced by the sweetness of the grapes. Recipe from “Big Flavors of the Hot Sun” by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby; makes about 1 1/2 cups.

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Stir before using.

Chicken and grape salad with cashews

Serve this delicious salad as a main course for lunch or a light dinner. Recipe from “Gourmet’s In Short Order,” a publication of Gourmet magazine; makes 2 servings.

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon chutney, minced if needed

1 small garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with ¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sour cream

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 to 2 drops hot pepper sauce

1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup seedless green or red grapes, washed well and halved

½ cup roasted and salted cashew nuts

2 cups watercress sprigs, coarse stems discarded, rinsed and spun dry

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, chutney, garlic paste and sour cream. Add oil in a stream, whisking until dressing is emulsified. Whisk in the hot pepper sauce. In a separate bowl, toss the chicken and grapes with the dressing; marinate for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; toss gently. Divide salad between two plates and serve.

Fettuccine with grapes

Here’s a quick, healthful entree from “The Healing Foods Cookbook” by the editors of Prevention magazine; makes 4 servings. For a completely vegetarian version, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock.

8 scallions, julienned

¼ cup chicken stock

2 cups red seedless grapes, halved

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

1 ¼ cups low fat cottage cheese

¼ cup skim milk

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

12 ounces fettuccine

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

In a large nonstick frying pan, saute the scallions in the chicken stock for 3 minutes. Add grapes and thyme; heat for 2 minutes and set aside. In a food processor or blender, puree the cottage cheese, milk, cheese and nutmeg until smooth; set aside. In a large pot of boiling water, cook fettuccine until tender. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add cheese mixture and grape mixture. Toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Grape and rosemary focaccia

For quite a few years, I’ve been making this easy bread for picnics and potlucks. If you want to make a pizza version, omit the sugar and add some grated Parmesan or mozzarella on top before baking. The number of servings can be decided by the size of the pieces; generally you can get 12 to 20 servings.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen bread dough, thawed and kneaded together

1 cup red seedless grapes, washed well and patted dry

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, washed, dried and minced

1 or 2 tablespoons sugar

Coat the bottom of a 10-by-15-inch baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place dough in pan; press and stretch dough to fill pan evenly. Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap; let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Drizzle remaining tablespoon oil over dough. With fingers, gently press dough down all over, forming dimples in the surface. Press grapes into dough surface; sprinkle evenly with rosemary and sugar. Bake in preheated 400 F oven until dough is well browned on edges and bottom, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.