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Slice of Life, Grapes

July 19, 2011

Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog, or web site.

Certain produce requires careful examination and scrutiny for any bugs and insects. For more information, please visit : OU Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Chart

There is no discrimination in my kitchen and I brought my son’s up to believe in equal rights for grapes in any and all colors and recipes. Red or green or black, I’m color blind in my love for these crunchy, tangy, sweet, bursting with flavor (mostly from California) fruits. While I’m not quite as fond of the ones with seeds they are always welcome at my fruit smorgasbord and are available, like the rest of their fun friends almost all year long (May through January are peak times)

There are three basic types of grapes, those that are eaten as is or used in recipes (these are called table grapes) wine grapes (used in viniculture) and raisin grapes (used to make dried fruit). All can be eaten fresh but they really aren’t interchangeable when making wine and raisins.

Grapes are a perfect snack fruit as they offer the consumer a great way to get manganese vitamin B6, thiamin (vitamin B1), potassium, and vitamin C into their diet. You should look for grapes that are plump, firm and free from wrinkles near where they attach to the stem. One way of the best ways to tell if the grapes you getting are at the peak of their sweetness is to check their color. Green grapes should be slight yellowish green, red grapes should be almost entirely red and purple/black grapes should have a deep dark rich color.

Grapes stay best if they are stored in the refrigerator (they will spoil quite quickly if left at room temperature. I usually wrap them loosely wrap in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag or colander. You can, of course freeze them for the ultimate “you are the best parent ever snack”. All you have to do is remove them from the stem, wash and dry them and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for several hours and voila, the perfect low calorie summer snack.

The following recipes are a fairly simple to throw together and are perfect for those of us who can’t get enough grapes.

HONEY LEMON MANGOS AND GRAPES (pareve)

1/2 cup green grapes
1 1/2 cup red grapes
2 diced mangos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup honey
1 /2 cup toasted sliced almonds

In a bowl combine the grapes and mango. In another bowl combine the honey, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Pour the sauce over the grapes and mix to coat. Spoon the mixture into 4 bowls and top with toasted almonds. Serve 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

CURRIED GRAPE AND CASHEW SALAD

2 cup cashew (halves or pieces)
8 slice kosher breakfast beef cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons melted margarine
2 teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
2 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup olive oil
salt, black pepper
20 oz salad greens (mixed)
2 pears (thinly sliced)
2 cups grapes (I like red seedless, cut in half)

In a medium bowl combine the margarine, rosemary, curry powder, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and toasted cashews. Mix to combine and then set it aside. In another bowl combine the vinegar, mustard, and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and then season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large salad bowl, toss dressing with greens, pear slices, grapes, and breakfast beef, and sprinkle the nut mixture on top and serve. Serves 6 to 8

Modified from a BHG recipe

CHICKEN TACOS WITH GRAPE SALSA (meat)

3 cups seedless red grapes (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
One 12-count package taco shells
2 lbs. shredded cooked chicken

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the grapes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and set the mixture aside. .Place the taco shells on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Place the chicken in a medium bowl and microwave at high power until warmed through, about 30 seconds; stir in 1/2 cup of the grape salsa and mix to combine. Divide the chicken mixture among the 12 taco shells and top with more grape salsa. Serves 12

Modified from a recipe by Stefanie Maloney

PISTACHIO CRUSTED FISH WITH GRAPES (fish)

4 white fish fillets that are 1/2 inch-thick, such as snapper
3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup pistachio kernels, finely chopped
1/3 cup bread crumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup green grapes, halved
3/4 cup red grapes, halved
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the mint, parsley, nuts, breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Rub fish lightly with oil, reserve extra oil. Press crumbs on fish and sprinkle with remaining oil. Bake on a foil lined baking sheet, Bake for 25 minutes.

For the grapes, heat up a small sauce pan and oil when hot add the grapes and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Keep warm until fish is ready. Divide grape mixture onto four plates, top with cooked fish. Serves 4.

Recipe modified from Sunkist.com

MOCK SHRIMP AND GRAPE SALAD

3 heads romaine lettuce, shredded
1 lb seedless green grapes
1 lb seedless red grapes
1 to 2 lbs mock shrimp, cut into bite sized pieces
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 cup chow mein or rice noodles
1/2 cup golden raisons
1/3 to 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 to 2/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Combine all the ingredients (except the salad dressing) into a large salad bowl and mix to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss to coat. Serves 8.

WHITE FISH, GRAPES AND AVOCADO SALAD

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. smoked whitefish, broken into bite sized pieces
1/2 to 1 lb snap peas, cut in half
2 to 3 avocados, diced
3 to 4 green onions, sliced thin
The juice of 1 to 2 limes
2 to 4 cups red or green grapes cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In large mixing bowl combine the snap peas, avocado, green onions and the lime juice. Add the whitefish to the snap pea mixture and toss to combine. Add the grapes a little olive oil and some salt and pepper but be careful with the salt as the whitefish can add more than enough to the salad. Toss gently to combine and serve. Serves 6 to 8

Submitted by Carrie Marie Nelson Chicago, IL

GRAPE AND WILD RICE (pareve)

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tart apples, chopped
1 tablespoon oil or margarine
1/2 teaspoon dried sage or poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups seedless red grapes
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Bring broth and water to boil and then add the brown and wild rice. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 to 55 minutes or until rice is done and the liquid gone. In a skillet melt the margarine and saute the onion, celery and apples just until they are starting to get soft. Add the sage and the grapes and mix to combine. Add the grape mixture to the rice. Season with salt and pepper and then spoon the mixture into a greased baking dish. Cover and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

SPICY CHICKEN AND GRAPE LETTUCE CUPS (meat)

3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 to 5 teaspoons chili paste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
1 1/2 cup green grapes, halved
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, both white and green parts
1 head iceberg lettuce, cut in half and separated into leaves
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into julienne strips
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley

Make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, chili paste, cornstarch, water, sugar and vinegar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and cook until it is no longer pink, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the grapes and green onions and sauté for 30 seconds more. Stir the sauce mixture and pour into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon the hot chicken mixture into the prepared lettuce leaves. Garnish with the cucumber and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main course and 8 as an appetizer.

Modified from epicurious.com

ORANGES AND GRAPE SAUCE FOR CHICKEN OR FISH (pareve)

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup cold water
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin orange sections, drained
1 cup seedless grapes
2 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs, herbs de Provence or French herbs

Combine the cornstarch and sugar in saucepan, stir in the orange juice and water. Cook mixture over low heat, whisking constantly until sauce is thick. Stir in the mandarin oranges, grapes, orange rind, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs. Mix to combine and heat, over a low heat until the sauce is hot throughout. Serve over any baked fish or chicken. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen