Last week I wrote about the delicious overnight oats we enjoyed at our hotel on Nantucket, but that wasn’t the only culinary inspiration the island sparked. I was also taken with some unusual appetizers prepared with baguette slices spread with cream cheese and topped with roasted red grapes and sunflower seeds.
At home I couldn’t wait to make these little treats in my own kitchen. I tried several cheeses, and settled on some snowy white chèvre to replace the cream cheese in the original version. And, toasted walnuts were just as good as sunflower seeds.
Roasting the grapes was a breeze. You coat them with olive oil, pop them in the oven for several minutes until lightly browned and wrinkled, and then toss them with balsamic vinegar and chopped rosemary. Both the grapes and the oven-toasted baguette slices can be prepared several hours ahead– a big make ahead bonus!
I took these openers to a dinner party last weekend, arriving with a big tote containing the roasted grapes, cheese, and toasts. It took only a few minutes to assemble the appetizers and arrange them on a platter. Then I watched with a smile as they quickly disappeared!
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Roasted Grape and Goat Cheese Toasts
2 1/2 cups red seedless grapes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil plus 4 tbsp or more for the toasts
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
18 baguette slices cut 1/2 in thick on the diagonal
6 to 7 oz creamy goat cheese
6 tbsp walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (see cooking tip)
1. Arrange a rack at the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the grapes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle them with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir, using a wooden spoon to coat well. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the grapes begin to wrinkle, are slightly browned, and some have collapsed, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove them to a bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar and the rosemary. (The grapes can be prepared 3 hours ahead; leave at room temperature.) Retain the oven temperature.
3. For the toasts, arrange the bread slices on another baking sheet, and brush on both sides with olive oil. Bake them until slices are crisp and golden, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and if not using immediately, leave at room temperature uncovered for up to 1 hour.
4. To assemble, spread each toast generously with goat cheese. (You may have some left over; save extra for another use.) Top each toast with 3 or more grapes and a sprinkle of walnuts. Makes 18 toasts to serve 6 to 8
Cooking tip: To toast walnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2016