appetizers, snacks

roasted grapes (another cheese plate possibility).

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

quick, quick:

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.

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  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina November 16, 2012 at 5:56 am

    To me, your Thanksgiving sounds like it happens in magic fairy land.

    • Reply shannon November 16, 2012 at 6:00 am

      ….and I already know that’s likely to be my favorite comment today. 🙂 love you.

  • Reply Emma November 16, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Ooooooh yeah, cool idea! I like grapes in all the ways. I have enjoyed them in baked goods (why don’t people cook with grapes more often?), and also frozen, but never before roasted. I’ll have to try this!

    • Reply shannon November 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      i’ve thought the very same thing; i see grapes every now and again in a clafoutis, or a concord grape tart, but beyond that, not so much? i’ve always wondered if it’s the skins. i know neither one of us has fruit skin issues, but lots of people can’t abide them. or maybe they don’t add much in terms of flavor, but i guess i’d be surprised if that were the case.

  • Reply Ashley November 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Oh, roasted grapes are so addictive! I only discovered them a few months ago, but it’s been my new favorite way (formerly it was freezing them) to salvage almost-bad grapes. A light coating in oil or honey, a sprinkle of kosher salt, and add to a cooked whole grain or Greek yogurt. After eating a, uh, healthy amount directly from the roasting pan. Purely quality control, I swear. But having them warm with cheese? That’s inspired. And that’s going to happen soon. You’re just churning out brilliant ideas!

    • Reply shannon November 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      i LOVE frozen grapes in the summer! Like tiny popsicle orbs, sans sticks. 🙂 honey is a great suggestion; i was going to try and experiment with playing off the sweetness but i was trying to figure out how to go about that. I’ve had some in my greek yogurt with a little granola…yum. and yes, i managed to pop several/many/who’s counting in my mouth while i was photographing them. you know…the ones that didn’t seem photo-worthy.
      thanks, ashley; something about this fall sort of ‘clicked’ with me because i feel much more at ease working with the flavor profiles of the colder months. I’m not sure what that is, but i’m happy. I’m still screwing things up royally, don’t get me wrong. just less so. 🙂

      • Reply Ashley November 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

        It’s only fun when you screw up, learn, and try again! Unless you have to waste your favorite ginger brew….but that’s sad on its own.
        Plus, screwing up is very scientific. Speaking from experience, science is a LOT more about failure + troubleshooting than it is about success. Otherwise I’d have earned my degree and moved on already! Instead I spent a year on a project with no positive results (yet, I hope). Oof.

        • Reply shannon November 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

          you make an excellent point: i forget that sometimes, but can you imagine all the screwing up scientists have had to do for centuries to get things right? it IS very scientific, and certainly i learn way more when i screw up and THEN get it right than i do if something just comes off without a hitch. makes the successes that much more exciting, i think. I wish you the best (and i’ll continue to do so) with your current projects and work; i know you can do it! certainly if your trials in the kitchen are any indication, your positive results will happen. 🙂

          • Ashley November 20, 2012 at 9:49 am

            Thank you!!!

  • Reply natalie November 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

    these sound like they might be exceptionally delicious with (don’t call me crazy) Trader Joe’s Cinnamon cheese. I know, it sounds really super weird, and I totally gave the sample lady a “WTF ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT” look when she offered it to me, but I tried it, and it was SO GOOD. And would be amazing with these!
    Or maybe with a schmear of mascarpone….. 10:00 am isn’t too early to be craving this now is it?

    • Reply shannon November 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      no judgement: i’m curious about cinnamon cheese now! is it like “cheese” like cream cheese? or cheese like “you can slice this” cheese? i had a cheese once from Whole Foods that was somehow coffee-laced, and it was incredible, so who am i to call you crazy. next time i go to TJ’s, i’m looking for it. maybe i’ll go THERE to get my cheese platter cheese! DID YOU JUST SORT OF MAKE IT IN TO MY THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION WITH YOUR SUGGESTION?!? yes; yes you did.

      every time is the right time for cheese and roasted grapes. i don’t know why it couldn’t be breakfast.

  • Reply Angie November 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Can you roast them ahead of time and then just warm them or serve them at room temperature before putting them on the cheese plate?

    • Reply shannon November 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Hi Angie! Yes, you can make these ahead; i’d say you could roast them up to a day before if you want, then pop them in a preheated oven (i suspect if you’re cooking a turkey, it may be around 350˚F) to warm them. if that’s your temperature, check them after about 5-10 minutes. You just want them warmed to slightly above a room temp, so leave them in until they’re there. They’re lovely at room temp too, if you don’t feel like messing with it.
      and i’m sure you know this, but microwaves are out of the question for this one. exploding grapes are not pretty. 🙂

      • Reply Angie November 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        Thanks! I love this idea!

  • Reply Brianne November 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Just last night we busted out Whole Living’s recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts and grape with walnuts. We made it last fall and haven’t stopped thinking about it. The combination is sublime. I don’t even like the word sublime, but I can’t think of another adjective to describe how good that recipe is. Transcendental? Yikes, now the New Age is calling me.

    Anyway, roasted Brussels sprouts and grapes with walnuts. SO good.

    • Reply shannon November 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      oh my goodness: i never thought about doing grapes and walnuts WITH brussels sprouts! i bet that was a borderline spiritual experience. 🙂 that sounds…i don’t even have words either now, but i feel like if i made it once, i’d make it every day thereafter. YUM.

      • Reply Katherine @ eggton December 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm

        This brussels sprouts + grape business reminds me of a recipe that I saw recently for spicy cauliflower with raisins. Sounds like it could be cool, right? I think I’m going to try it soon.

        • Reply shannon December 8, 2012 at 9:06 am

          totally sounds like it could be cool. i always love cauliflower (you know that) and i feel like i’ve recently rediscovered raisins? Just seems like for me, raisins were a kid food and then disappeared entirely from my diet forever save for the occasional oatmeal raisin cookie. Now, i feel like i’ve used them many times and in some interesting ways. When you make it, i want to hear about it.

  • Reply movita beaucoup November 23, 2012 at 5:57 am

    I started to read this post in my pyjamas, but then put on my old prom dress BECAUSE ROASTED GRAPES ARE SO FREAKIN’ ELEGANT.

    No lie.

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