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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?

 

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sana September 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Interesting. I can’t say that I have ever cooked with grapes before.

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2 Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom September 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I have added grapes to my tuna and chicken salads before but never eaten them warm. I can’t say that I really want to either though your dish looks really delicious!!

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3 runinboise September 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm

The only recipes that I can think of that involve grapes are wine and jelly :-) Thanks for sharing this one.

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4 Sara@RunningInPinkProject September 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I love cooking with grapes!!! I dont do it very often but its such a fun little addition to dishes.

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5 Julie September 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Very cool. Never cooked with grapes before, nor have I ever seen it done, but I don’t see why not? Looking forward to more grape ideas! Love that trick about slicing them.

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6 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale September 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I’ve never cooked with grapes, but if I enjoy them half as much as I enjoy grilled peach, I’d be one happy camper!!
What a great slicing trick! I used to work at a breakfast restaurant and the fruit prep team always hated slicing the grapes. This probably would have worked a lot better for them (although they were super fast at doing it individually … it was so impressive).

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7 Bronwyn September 19, 2012 at 12:01 am

we make a really yummy thai red curry with duck and grapes

http://www.thaicookeryschool.com/recipe/roast-duck-with-red-curry-127.html

the eggplants they use in Thailand are different to the eggplants we get here in New Zealand (they are small and look like peas almost) so if you can’t find thai pea eggplants in the States I would just leave them out. This is the yummiest curry – sweet, spicy and a little salty from the soy and fish sauce – give it a try!

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8 Cellabella September 19, 2012 at 12:02 am

I discovered cooked grapes last year! I first started putting halved red grapes on top of pizza along with a pesto-tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and prosciutto. To the uninitiated, it tastes like you topped the pizza with really sweet cherry tomatoes.

Sometimes I just roast grapes in the oven, tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme or rosemary. They’re great hot as a side dish, but I also like to add them cold to salads for an interesting surprise. My most recent salad mixture was spinach, marinated artichokes, roasted grapes, honey-roasted slivered almonds, and feta cheese with a lemon-maple syrup vinaigrette :)

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9 Lindsay September 19, 2012 at 12:05 am

I’m not sure exactly what it is about these Whole Foods sponsored posts (the fact that you have no training as a chef? The fact that you never label any of your sponsored posts? The fact that the combos you come up with look gross?) but they really make me want to stop reading your blog.

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10 Meghann September 19, 2012 at 6:59 am

This was not a sponsored post. Sponsored posts are when you receive compensation for writing about the brand, I merely received free grapes and cookbooks, which I admitted they sent me. I never said I was a trained chef, and I’m pretty sure 99% of folks who cook meals for their families every night are not trained chefs. Also I did not come up with this combination, it was a recipe written by one of those fancy trained chefs you spoke of.

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11 Lindsay September 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm

We can agree to disagree. I’m not sure where you saw that definition of sponsored, but in general (and in the FTC guidelines) “sponsoring” means receiving compensation–through money or products–in exchange for a review. You did disclose that Whole Foods gave you the product, but you did not do it in a conspicuous manner. Consequently, I am suckered into reading the post only to find out that your opinion was heavily influenced by free products. (despite the counter argument I am sure you will make, that the opinions are your own and are honest). I’m just asking you to be more open with your product connections by including a disclaimer regarding what you received and that you have benefitted from a product or money. That way I will know up front whether I want to. Spend time reading your post.

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12 Sarah K September 19, 2012 at 12:09 am

I would have never thought about cooking with grapes before, but that dish sounds amazing

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13 Julianna @ Julianna Bananna September 19, 2012 at 1:51 am

that dish looks so good! i’ve never done anything with grapes except eat them raw – i’ve discovered that with fruit i like it best fresh. but i am definitely pinning this recipe!

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14 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats September 19, 2012 at 3:31 am

I’m the same way, I can smack through a bag of grapes in one or two days, but I’ve never cOoked with them! That looks delicious though and it’s great you got to do the challenge with your dad!

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15 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats September 19, 2012 at 6:36 am

I love oven roasted grapes. I like to roast grapes drizzled in olive oil and put them on top of a baked sweet potato with some goat cheese and honey. soooo yum.

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16 Sarah September 19, 2012 at 7:04 am

I’m mildly obsessed with grapes; I think they might be my favorite food. As for cooked grapes, I like to roast them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and eat them with crusty bread and cheese (brie is my favorite). And this pizza from Cooking Light is awesome as well.
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-red-grape-pesto-pizza-10000001918486/

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17 Nikki September 19, 2012 at 7:27 am

Cooking with grapes sounds very difficult. Your dish looks great though. And I love how you like to cook with your dad!

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18 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope September 19, 2012 at 7:30 am

I’ve never cooked with grapes before. So I think it’s interesting! :)

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19 Julie @ There and Back Again September 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

I love adding sliced grapes to chicken or shrimp salad for wraps – that Rachael Ray trick will save me eight years of slicing every week! Haha, thanks for the awesome tip! :)

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20 Sizzle September 19, 2012 at 8:15 am

Dude, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now. I’ve noticed tons of spelling and grammatical errors lately. Do you not proofread before you post? Seriously, in this entry alone there are at least ten glaring errors. I’m just advocating for us editors out there.

“(they sent me a small gift card to purchase the grapes and ingredient[s])”
“The recipe called for two pound[s] of halved grapes.”
“A quick and easy [way?] to halve a boat load of grapes at once …”
“As soon as I added the honey, fresh thyme, and red pepper flakes, [I knew?] that this was going to be good.”
“One taste hot out of the pan [and?] I was sold.”

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21 Candice September 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

Looks like you had some fun with those grapes! I have never really cooked with grapes before. Usually I just pop them in my mouth as a simple snack or throw them onto a salad for some added texture.

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22 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes September 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

I love, love, love grapes (hence the name of my blog, lol!), but I’ve never cooked with them … very interesting.

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23 Jamie @ StudioEats September 19, 2012 at 10:36 am

This looks absolutely delicious!! Your Whole Foods dealer really knows how to hook it up :)

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24 Lindsay September 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

That recipe looks delicious! The other night, I tossed some grapes onto a pan of Brussels sprouts, onion and bacon before roasting in the oven. It was a great last minute addition!

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25 Meghann September 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

That sounds AMAZING!!! I have all of those ingredients at home, I’ll have to try it! Thank you. :)

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26 Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife September 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

I love that new way to cut grapes! that is awesome! I never think to use grapes to cook.

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27 Maureen @ Organically Mo September 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Cooking with grapes sounds so interesting! I’ve only added them to chicken salads before.

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28 Sonia the Mexigarian September 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

never cooked with grapes before…. unless you call fermenting them a part of cooking ;) wait…. would cooking with wine count, since they were technically grapes…. in that case, heck yes i do!

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29 kim@hungryhealthygirl September 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I have actually never cooked with grapes before, but I love snacking on them. They are the perfect snack to grab when you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner. I’ll have to do some experimenting…. ;)

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30 Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut September 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I love that little grape trick! Who knew? I didn’t, ha. I actually bought some mini grapes from the market last weekend, but I don’t love them (they are soft and I like bigger, crunchier ones), but you’ve inspired me to get creative with ‘em. :)

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31 Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog September 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I would have never thought to cook grapes – what a great idea! Thanks for sharing this kitchen experiment and I love the grape slicing trick!

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32 Meghan @ After the Ivy League September 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I’ve never thought to cook with grapes (unless you count adding them to cold chicken salad? Probably not). Sounds like something I need to try, especially since I eat grapes almost daily!

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