Roasted Grapes, who would have thought?
I have been inspired by a few things of late, one was this little 'bunch' of sweet, tubular darkness (below) that I spotted at my local grocer. The other, a lovely 'bunch' of ladies from one of my recent classes who had fallen in love with the warmed olives we enjoy during our Italian Long Lunch class.
Seems good things come in 'bunches'.
Firstly to address these strange clusters of thumb sized goodness, which are in fact a lovely new table grape variety called Sweet Sapphire which are grown in Western Australia's, Carnarvon region. I have to admit I did have some fun with these as I tried to palm them off to my chocolate loving parents as liquorice 'chocolate bullets' we all know from the lolly isle of the supermarket. Although it was dark on the driveway that night, they weren't fooled and trusted me as they bit into the crispy sweet little morsels, revealing an almost translucent centre. Yep they were convinced, not about the 'chocolate bullet' part but that fact that they were really delicious and were excited to be trying something new! Lucky for us, the table grape season in Australia actually lasts for almost 7 months from Nov-May, however February and March are when they are really at their peak.
According to the Australian Table Grape Association Inc,
"grapes are one of the oldest edible plants to be cultivated, along with olives. Fossils indicate that the consumption of grapes dates back as far as 5000BC."
Which brings me to my other inspiration (not the "Fossils" part of course!) and it's that of some of my recent class participants, as they had posted a few lovely comments on social media after recreating our classes warmed olives recipe saying
"hands down the best Marinated Olives" and "nibbles last night were so good with our warm olives from the best cooking class ever"
- thanks ladies, yes they are really great aren't they!
Well thanks to our grapes being at their peak, our ladies sprucing their warmed olive achievements and that fact that the two oldest edible plants were on my mind, I thought something new was in order to excite the senses and step things up a little... enter the Roasted Grape and we're roasting and serving them warm with a 'bunch' of our other favourites. A perfect pairing to change up your evening nibble moments!
Roast them on the vine if you are going for visual instagram'able cheese platter impact, or pick them before roasting and serve them in a bowl or pop them hot on top of your cheese for a bit of extra gooeyness. There are so many uses for these little bubbles of sticky sweet, deliciousness, but we've made it simple by making a dipping sauce of oil and balsamic for your crusty baguette, then simply topping it with a creamy, gooey cheese, salty prosciutto and finished with those sweet roasted warm grapes. Check out some of the other serving ideas below or think outside the box and create your own combinations.
with balsamic vinegar, camembert, prosciutto and crusty baguette
2 tsp olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra to serve
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 large bunch of grapes (see tips below on type)
sea salt and cracked pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
100g prosciutto, torn into bite sized pieces
camembert or your favourite cheese and a crusty baguette to serve
Preheat oven to 180 deg.
Place grapes on a lined baking tray, drizzle with 2 tsp of oil and sprinkle with dried herbs.
Roast for 15-20 minutes or until grapes just start to wrinkle and split. Remove from oven, set aside to cool slightly and season with salt and cracked pepper.
Place remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a small serving bowl and place it on your serving platter with the grapes, cheese, prosciutto and baguette and serve while warm.
A few other serving ideas
These grapes go really nicely placed on top of ice cream. Omit the herbs, reduce the olive oil to just a drop or two and add a good drizzle of balsamic to the roasting pan. The balsamic will start to slightly caramelise on the tray so when you remove the grapes, don't forget to use the tray juices as a lovely sauce on top of the ice-cream
Cut your roasted grapes in half and throw them into a cheese toastie - OMG YUM!
Make a simple salad of rocket, prosciutto, Persian feta, roasted grapes and walnuts, with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Roast your grapes as above and throw the walnuts in with them for the remaining 8-10 mins of cooking, or until they slightly darken in colour. Remove grapes and walnuts and set aside to cool. Arrange all the ingredients on a serving platter and drizzle with oil and vinegar and any remaining pan juices
The grapes are easier to eat if they have been picked off the vine before roasting. Depends on what look you are going for (we eat with our eyes first remember!). They look really nice served in a little jar on your platter too. If choosing this method, it's well worth trying a few different grape varieties together and you will end up with a lovely colourful display
Red grapes look gorgeous when roasted, green not so much but the flavour is still good - you choose! Maybe a combo of a few types?
Camembert, a creamy Brie or a lightly aged goats feta pair beautifully with these grapes, but certainly have a go with your favourite cheese, I'm sure it will be a keeper!
Feel free to use fresh herbs if you like (up the quantity to around 1 tbsp of each). They do burn a little during the roasting but they look lovely in the presentation, especially if you reserve a few fresh sprigs to decorate your platter
LOVE YOUR FOOD MOMENTS... ENYOY!