In the file cabinet wedged into the closet of my study, I keep folders filled with recipes clipped from magazines and papers or printed from the internet. These recipes are not categorized by type of food (which would be the most practical organization), but rather haphazardly by season with headings like: “fall/winter” or “spring/summer.” There are hundreds in countless folders. Recently, I spotted a recipe from the late 90s for roasted grapes and olives. It called for wine grapes and Picholine olives to be cooked in a skillet in a wood-fired oven. Because I didn’t have access to either wine grapes or a wood-fired oven then, I left the instructions filed away as a memory. But fast-forward almost 20 years, and I saw the recipe in a new light!
Red and green seedless grapes plus pitted Kalamatas stand in beautifully for the original ingredients. Walnut halves add crunchy texture, and herbes de Provence and bay leaves an herbal accent. Nothing could be simpler to prepare. I tossed everything with olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a black cast iron skillet, then popped the pan in the oven for less than half an hour.
Served warm or at room temperature, this dish, which you can view as either a side or condiment, is quite versatile. Use it to jazz up a purchased rotisserie bird, or try it with roasted pork tenderloins, or offer it as a special side to the Thanksgiving turkey. My favorite way is to feature it with a platter of cheeses and toasted baguettes slices. I serve the grapes in a shallow bowl with a soup or serving spoon so that they can be easily transferred to cheese-topped bread slices.
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Roasted Grapes, Olives, and Walnuts
1 1/4 cups seedless green grapes
1 1/4 cups seedless red grapes
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp herbes de Provence
2 bay leaves, broken in half
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large heavy ovenproof skillet (cast iron works particularly well), mix together the green and red grapes, walnuts, and olives. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and toss to coat well. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence and tuck the bay leaves into the mixture.
3.Roast, stirring once or twice, until the grapes begin to wrinkle slightly, but still retain their shape, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes in the skillet. (The grape mixture can be prepared 3 hours ahead; leave at room temperature. If you wish to reheat, set skillet over medium heat on stove top and stir until warmed through.)
4. Serve the grapes warm or at room temperature as a side or as a condiment. They are delicious paired with soft cheeses such as Taleggio, Camembert, or St André or a creamy chèvre or Gorgonxola. Include toasted slices from a crusty baguette or peasant loaf, and serve the grapes in a shallow bowl with a soup or serving spoon. Makes about 4 cups.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2017