Great Grapes

The ways to consume grapes are endless! We eat them out of hand; we turn them into jelly, grape juice and wine and add them to salads and other dishes. And don’t forget the raisins! This popular fruit’s history goes back to when grape vines were first cultivated in the Middle East. They stayed in that part of the world until Spanish explorers brought them here over 300 years ago.

Grapes are part of the berry family. They have a tough skin and fleshy interior much like a blueberry.

There are more than 8,000 varieties of grapes growing today. Grapes come in many colors, including green, red, black, yellow, pink, and purple; those referred to as “white” grapes are actually green.

Seventy-two million tons of grapes are grown each year worldwide, with most of them being used to produce wine — 7.2 trillion gallons of wine per year, to be exact.

The health benefits of grapes are numerous, with past studies associating them with prevention of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and constipation.

Grapes contain powerful antioxidants, known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, and resveratrol for heart health. Eating grapes may also help to alleviate symptoms of allergies including runny nose, watery eyes and hives.

In all, lots of reasons to try some of our tasty recipes today!

Grilled Chicken and Grape Salad

Serve as an appetizer or even
dinner with a hearty bowl of soup.

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

For the salad:

1 pound chicken breast, butterflied or pounded thin

1/4 cup pecans

4 cups baby spinach or mixed greens

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

1 cup seedless red or black grapes, halved

1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed

1/4 cup sliced scallions

To prepare dressing, combine first five ingredients in a jar or blender; blend or whisk until smooth.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high. Brush with oil. Grill chicken 2–3 minutes per side or until nice grill marks appear. Remove from grill and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake pecans for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until just toasted.

Slice snap peas in half or into thirds. Slice grilled chicken into strips.

Place chicken, salad greens, grapes, snap peas, yellow pepper and scallions into a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Serves 4.

Grape Pound Cake

A different take!

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups purple grapes

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup margarine, cold, cut into pieces

Cake Batter:

3/4 cup margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 1/3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup seedless red or black grapes, halved

1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed

1/4 cup sliced scallions

Place cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in a measuring cup, set aside. Place grapes, sugar and lemon juice into a pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, continuing to stir. Add cornstarch to grape mixture and continue to cook until it no longer looks cloudy, about five minutes.

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Do not skip this step. When assembling the buckle, if the filling is hot it will bubble and overflow, creating a mess in your oven.

In medium bowl, add flour, sugar, cinnamon, and margarine. Using a pastry blender, work margarine into dry ingredients, until mixture is coarse and crumbly. In your mixer, cream margarine, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Add eggs. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Pre-heat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and pour in cake batter. Drop spoonfuls of grape filling on top of the batter and gently swirl with a knife. Top with the streusel mixture and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.