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Decoding Spring Produce: Grapes - Graper Expectations

Decoding Spring Produce: Grapes - Graper Expectations

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The days are getting longer and the weather warmer. Spring is when many of our favorite fruits come into their own and are plentiful at supermarkets and farmer's markets. You'll notice as you walk through the aisles that the colors have gotten brighter and much more diverse.

In previous articles, we've looked at some spring vegetables: stinging nettles, asparagus, and artichokes. In this first installment looking at the fruit of the season, we'll be focusing on grapes.

Grapes

Although we usually see grapes all year round in the grocery store, grapes start their Northern California season in May and goes on throughout November. Along with being high in Vitamins C and K, they are popular for snacking with the young and old alike.

There are more than 200 varieties of grapes, but the two most common here in America are the Concord and the Niagara. Concord grapes are the popular red grapes you see in jelly, jam, and juice. Niagara grapes are the green skinned grapes you'll commonly see in the store.

Other varieties include chardonnay, pinot noir, and muscat. Many wines get their name for the varieties of grapes of which they are made. Wines are actually made from blends of different grapes, but their prominent flavor comes from the namesake grape in the blend.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Sweetened Grape Sauce

Entrée
Serves four

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (preferably with bone and skin, but boneless and skinless is acceptable)
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless white grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 tsp thyme, fresh
  • 1/2 Tbl butter or margarine
  • 1 Tbl olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Preheat a large sauté pan on high heat.

3. Season chicken breasts on all sides with salt and pepper.

4. Add olive oil to hot pan and sear chicken breasts to get a nice golden brown color on all sides.

5. Place browned chicken onto an oven-safe pan or tray and place in pre-heated oven.

6. While waiting for chicken to finish, prepare the grape sauce. In the same hot pan you seared the chicken, lightly sauté the sliced grapes and thyme.

7. In the same hot pan but off the flame, add white wine to deglaze the pan. This will release the small pieces of chicken stuck to the pan and add their flavor to the sauce.

8. Once the sizzling stops return the pan to medium heat and let reduce.

9. Add butter or margarine to the pan and turn heat to low.

10. Remove chicken from the oven when internal temperature is 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.

11. Place chicken on serving dish and pour sauce over.

Grape & Goat Cheese Salad

Salad or appetizer
Serves four

  • 1/4 lbs frisée or arugula
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grapes, halved
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbl olive oil

1. In a large bowl place mustard, vinegar, and oil. Whisk to combine.

2. Toss frisée or arugula and watercress in the bowl with the dressing, salt, and pepper.

3. Add grapes and goat cheese. Toss to combine.

Fruits are plentiful this time of year and grapes are just the start. A real highlight of the warm weather is the arrival of pint-sized baskets of strawberries, the fruit we'll look at next time.

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