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Get Your Grapes On

by Meghann on September 18, 2012

My Whole Foods fruit dealer is at it again! This month’s pick – organic grapes.

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I love me some grapes! They’re my favorite snack food to nibble on while standing in front of the fridge. I can easily go through a huge bag of grapes in a day or two, just by randomly snacking on them every time I enter the kitchen.

However, as much as I love snacking on grapes, I can’t say I know much about cooking with them. So when Lindsay encouraged me to “get creative” in her email, I confessed I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Luckily, Lindsay is as awesome as awesome can get and sent me some grape themed cookbooks to work from.

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Man, I’m convinced there’s a cookbook out there for everything, including grapes.

The cookbook was distributed by the California Grape Commission, and while I can’t find a link on where to find the book online, you can check out the California Grape Commission website for other grape-themed recipes. Also, Whole Foods is giving away another California Grape Commission cookbook (Green Black Red) on their blog today. Check it out HERE.

The “Grapes from California” cookbook was GORGEOUS and full of creative grape-themed recipes that ranged anywhere from hot and savory to chilled and sweet. Why have I never tried roasting grapes before? After flipping thought this cookbook, I’m convinced this is now the only way I should be eating grapes now. ;)

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All the recipes looked amazing, but there was one in particular that stood out to me

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Polenta and Sausage With Grapes and Green Tomatoes.

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I think what I liked most was that it was all ingredients I recognized and could easily pick up at Whole Foods (nothing worse than a beautiful cookbook filled with complicated ingredients). I also liked the play on sweet and savory and who doesn’t love polenta?

So I hit Whole Foods (they sent me a small gift card to purchase the grapes and ingredients), filled my cart, and got ready to cook.

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(I should probably note here that I bought all the ingredients yesterday. I’m staying at my parents’ place this evening and brought them all with me on my drive over this afternoon. My dad loves a cooking challenge as much as I do, so I knew he would get a kick out of it.)

This was not a quick recipe, but my dad and I had fun spending an hour piecing it together in the kitchen.

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And, of course, the star ingredient of the dish.

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The recipe called for two pounds of halved grapes. If there are any Rachael Ray fans out there, you may recognize this little trick I picked up from her.

A quick and easy to halve a boat load of grapes at once is to lay the grapes on a flat surface and cover them with a tupperware lid.

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Hold the lid down, then use a knife to slice the grapes that are secured in the center.

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Voila! Perfectly sliced grapes.

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I still had to do the grapes in small batches, but small batches work a heck of a lot better than one at a time. :)

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The grapes were not surprisingly my favorite part of the dish. As soon as I added the honey, fresh thyme, and red pepper flakes, that this was going to be good.

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Especially when I started heating them. One taste hot out of the pan and I was sold.

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The finished product:

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A couple of notes:

  • The polenta was too thin, I let it cook for the directed time, but it never got to the thick consistency I was hoping for. It was also a little bland, we added more cheese and salt to spice it up.
  • We didn’t let the sauce thicken up either, which didn’t help the thin polenta.

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Other than that, I thought the dish was great. My absolute favorite part was the slightly charred grapes on top. Now that I have this under my belt, I’m somewhat excited to explore a little more with my grape cooking skills. Makes me wonder what else grapes would be fabulous in, especially with a little honey and fresh thyme.

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By the way – cooked grapes rock. Just had to put that out there. :)

Thank you, Whole Foods, for encouraging me to step outside my comfort zone with grapes! Turns out there are more things you can do with grapes besides just snacking on them (though they are still delicious that way too).

Have you ever cooked with grapes before? What’s your favorite recipe?

 

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