The grapes are here! The grapes are here!
Seeing their dusty maroons, their gilded greens, their rose-golds, I can barely help but gather my
oil paints iPhone and pretend my name's Franz and the year is 1616.
But once I've arranged and rearranged, I get to tasting. And once I've feasted—the dream is that I'm half-asleep on a chaise lounge by this point—it's time to address the (sometimes overwhelming) possibilities of grape transformation.
Pickle them (quickly, in a bath of vinegar (white wine, red wine, apple cider) and spices) or freeze them (for cocktails!)—or just cut to the chase: After 5 minutes in a hot oven, the grapes become slumpy and sweet (redemption for any bunches that were not so firm to begin with.)
Our Test Kitchen Chef Josh Cohen likes to drizzle grapes with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, then put them on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and into a hot (like 450° F hot) oven for 5 minutes, until the flesh shrugs off the skin and the juices runneth.
Once you've got the ooey grapes, their sweetness concentrated, their skins caramelized, you can eat them just like that, an entirely different textural experience than the pop of puncturing of a fresh grape.
Or you can fancy them up: Josh likes to serve them on crostini (baguette slices brushed with olive oil then baked at 375° F or 400° F till crispy on the edges with some give in the middle) that's been spread with an herby marinated Australian feta that he says is an extremely special cheese (no offense to the other cheeses out there) and that Munchies says "tastes like a young Mel Gibson’s sweaty chest" (hmmm?). Josh tops the crostini with teeny-tiny basil shreds.
But wait, there's more!
Here are 8 other ideas for eating, serving, and marveling at roasted grapes:
- Serve them over yogurt. Grind some coarse black pepper over top and add a splash of olive oil and the syrups from the baking sheet.
- Skip the dainty crostini (I am not royalty) and serve the roasted grapes over a thick slab of brioche toast spread with ricotta, Sqirl-style.
- Mash up the grapes (especially useful if the have seeds—Concords, for example) in a fine-mesh sieve, then harvest the juices! Cook them down into a syrup (add cardamom pods, cloves, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaves!), then shake it into cocktails or swirl it into a cake or blend it into a yogurt shake (use this recipe as inspiration) or add some cornstarch and turn it into jam.
- Add them to a grain or faux-grain (like couscous, orzo, and quinoa) salad with shredded roast chicken and crumbles of Parmesan. Plenty of herbs, too! And a handful of arugula or another peppery green.
- Spoon on top of ice cream—especially olive oil gelato. (If you want grapes even sweeter and more caramelized, sprinkle with brown sugar or muscovado before sending them into the oven).
- Play with adding herbs and spices either before or after roasting. Before the oven time: vanilla bean seeds, red pepper flakes, rosemary. After: a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Toss into a kale salad with fresh grapes (you saved a bunch, right?), cheddar cheese, and roasted squash.
- Or, if you're already roasting a chicken, add some grapes for the last five minutes of cook time: Dinner!