Grilled Fruit 13 - Grapes (Grapes?)
Surpise! - Grilled Grapes are Great (GGG)
We are going to try something new -- grilling grapes.
How many people grill grapes? Not many. But they are missing a bet. In fact, not only are grapes deliciously enhanced by grilling, but grilling opens up new possibilities. Like the salad shown here, for example. Makes a great lunch, even a great dinner.
A simple plate of grapes makes a great dessert, but grill them and combine them with other fruits and we have an interesting alternative.
Grilled fruit - grapes
The basic ingredients
These are, of course, red seedless grapes. (If the only ones in the supermarket when you go there are green -- or even -- purple, don't hesitate to snap those up and bring them home in place of the red).
Classic table grapes. And delicious all by themselves. Sweet and juicy, not too sweet and not too juicy. Just right. One of the problems with this dish is the possibility that we might consume too many of the grapes before putting them on the grill -- but, really, it is worth the wait.
But we're going to make something of them -- so to speak.
You already know this, but bears repeating: green and other color grapes will work well here, too.
On the way
In a grilling basket and on the way to the grill.
These grapes are large enough that they won't fall through the grilling grid, so technically we could just plop them directly onto the grill. But a grilling basket makes stirring them around a little easier.
This is after about three minutes on the grill, preheated grill, lid closed.
One of the many great things about grilling grapes is that it doesn't take long Another couple of minutes here and we will be done.
We want them grilled, but we don't want them mushy. We want to preserve a good deal of the solid feel when biting into a grape.
The grilling does make the grapes shed some of their juices -- but we will capture these and put them to good use.
Front and center in salad
What to do with grilled grapes? Here's the first deal:
Combine with feta cheese. The combination of these two is dynamite The sweetness of the grapes, enhanced in subtle ways by the grilling, contrasts compellingly with the saltiness of the feta. We could use crumbled feta, but in fact it is better to use a whole piece of cheese and slice off a couple of pieces to add to the salad. That way we can go back and forth between grape and feta.
Add some mixed lettuces and a tomato (wish we'd had a grilled one handy, but we forgot that we'd need a tomato until after we had fired the grill down).
For dressing: just EVOO and lime juice. Other than adding coarse ground salt and pepper, that's all. The olive oil and the lime juice combine fabulously with the juices coming out of the grilled grapes to make a superb salad dressing. See the next photo for a closer look..
As for the EVOO, click here.
The juices from the grilled grapes color the EVOO and the lime juice.
Looks great, does it not? Sort of like an abstract expressionist painting -- but one you can eat!
And the taste!
Here's the other deal
Dessert, plain and simple.
Combine the grilled grapes with another fruit. Strawberries are a good choice because the texture and flavor of strawberries contrasts with and at the same time complements the sweetness of the grilled grapes. Grilled strawberries would be even better. Here we were in a hurry so we just took some strawberries from the refrigerator and sliced them in half and combined them with the grilled grapes. What could be simpler than that?
But back to the grilling aspect of deserts with grilled grapes. Grilled apricots, grilled blueberries -- all go well with grilled grapes
It is difficult to imagine how far back grapes go as one of our best companions, perhaps 8,000 years. Of course, this may be due to the fact that grapes are implicated in the production of alcohol. Indeed they are one of the prime suspects.
It is the skin of the grape that is the culprit. The skin contains microorganisms that produce fermentation, specifically types of yeast, and as we all know fermentation leads on to many things. It is the making of a type of wine that goes all the way back to 8,000 years ago, apparently, to Georgia -- not the US state of course, but the Eurasian country, the one just west of the Caspian Sea. The oldest site archaeologists consider to be an actual full-fledged winery is found in nearby Armenia and dates back 4,000 years.
Vastly more recent is the Syrah - Shiraz thing. It is thought that the red wine grape that produces Petite Syrah originated in the ancient Persian city of Shiraz, dating back to about 800 BC. The Australians are thus well-grounded in referring to wine made from these grapes as Shiraz, whereas the French prefer Petite Syrah.
Grapes have always been eaten fresh, of course, as well as being made into wine. We could think of the grilling we have done here as in some sense an alternative to turning the grapes into a beverage. It is astounding how much of the planet is devoted to growing grapes. The UN agency, Food & Agriculture Organization (headquarter in the very viniferous city of Rome) tells us that 75,866 square kilometers of the world are dedicated to grape growing. A full 71% of this is for wine, but there are still plenty of grapes left over for us to put on our grills.
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