Something about roasting fruit always strikes me as vaguely exotic. Roasting vegetables seems more practical; most vegetables require a little roasting (or cooking of some sort) to become what they should be. Most fruit, however, doesn’t require any sort of heat to be delicious. We happily devour fruit left and right without a care in the world. Fruit is no big deal; it’s there, it’s ready, why bother messing with it?
But then, the weather turns. We start thinking about our ovens more. Pies seem like an excellent idea. Oven temperatures magically increase as we begin to bake and roast and cook everything we can get our hands on. Fruit misses out on this party most of the time; shoved in a pie? Sure. Baked into muffins? Yes, please. But roasted all by itself? Really?
Yes, really. Because roasting fruit – in this case, grapes – activates all that extra sweetness that’s living inside. For whatever reason, roasted grapes have been on my radar, and we have an abundance of almost every color you can imagine in the stores right now, so i thought now would be an excellent time to try them. I made them using two methods, and both work, so you can decide which fits into your holiday oven plans.
Whichever way you make them, they turn out perfectly sweet. Roasted grapes, as you may imagine, have the flavor that’s a cross between a very plump raisin and an un-roasted grape; the sweetness is that of a raisin, but still juicy on the insides. Like the pear compote, it matches up wonderfully with a cheese tray. Remember the suggestions I made for that? Those same breads, crackers, cheeses and nuts would be fantastic. And can you imagine a soft, warm little grape with some Maytag and a little French bread? I can.
Or you don’t have to imagine: make them for yourself. You can use the slow roast method if you’re making these well before your turkey goes in, you have two ovens, or you plan to take them to someone else’s holiday party as an appetizer. Alternately, use the quick roast if you want to put them in while the turkey is roasting, or pop them in when the turkey comes out; they’ll be ready by the time the designated turkey carver has finished their masterpiece.
I like these simple in terms of flavor; however, if you’d like to experiment, try roasting them with a few sprigs of rosemary on the pan, or maybe some fennel seeds, to see how the flavors blend together. Even a little fresh ground black pepper adds something a little different, if that’s what you’re in the mood for.
Seriously delicious. And how elegant, right? Hope you have a big platter for your newly-awesome cheese tray appetizer. And get used to being alone in the kitchen, because everyone else will be “busy.”
Roasted Grapes: Fast + Slow
- 4-5 pounds red or black seedless grapes (that’s a normal grocery-store bagged offering), broken down into small clusters able to lay on a pan in a single layer
- 2-3 tablespoons flavorless oil (I used grapeseed oil, but you can use vegetable oil if you wish)
- 1 tablespoon (or thereabouts) coarse ground sea salt
Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the grapes and oil together until everything is evenly coated. Arrange the clusters in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and season with coarse sea salt. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until grapes have shriveled slightly but aren’t burned or crisp. Mostly, you can really smell that raisiny sweetness when they’re done, so let that be your primary indicator. If you want them more shriveled, let them go for an additional 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the grapes and oil together until everything is evenly coated. Arrange the clusters in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and season with coarse sea salt. Roast in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until grapes have shriveled slightly. Mostly, you can really smell that raisiny sweetness when they’re done, so let that be your primary indicator. Since this is in a low oven, if after the 3 hour mark they still need more time, go for it. Let them go in 15 minute increments until they’re the way you want them.
Serve alongside the following:
- assortment of cheeses (Parmesan, gorgonzola, manchego, and Maytag are all good choices)
- assortment of bread/crackers (water crackers are great; I also enjoy a harvest wheat, or even a sesame cracker. Breads? Go wild. French baguette, pumpernickel, sourdough, or pick up a specialty bread, like a cranberry walnut), sliced into rounds and toasted, or left alone to let people slice as they may
- walnuts to scatter, but that’s optional.