(BPT) - Grapes from California are in abundant supply throughout the summer, which is welcome news for those seeking a healthy, refreshing snack. They’re also a boon to the home cook: grapes provide bright color, a sweet-tart flavor and a refreshing burst of juice to warm-weather dishes.
Grapes also complement, enhance and balance many flavors, including salty, hot-spicy, herbaceous, sweet (such as honey and maple syrup), citrus, vinaigrette-tart and many more. Their juicy and crisp qualities work well with other textures, too.
Grapes are always ripe and ready to use – in a word, dependable. Added bonus: grapes are a natural source of antioxidants and other polyphenols, which may contribute to heart health.
To enjoy the juicy sweet delight of grapes in fresh summer salads, try these recipes:
Quinoa Salad with Grapes, Almonds and Spinach
Colorful juicy grapes are the perfect culinary accent for the chewy quinoa, crunchy aromatic almonds and tangy citrus dressing in this anything-but-ordinary spinach salad.
1 cup multi-colored quinoa
1/3 cup Orange Mustard Dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 cups washed and dried baby spinach
4 scallions, finely chopped
3 cups green seedless California grapes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Orange Mustard Dressing:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey mustard
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the quinoa and season with salt. Simmer 9 minutes and drain well. Cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and stir in the dressing. Mix well and stir in the remaining ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 6.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 311; Protein 8.5 g; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fat 12 g; 33 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 193 mg; Potassium 491 mg; Fiber 6 g.
Fennel, Arugula and Grapes with Candied Pecans
Every ingredient combines to create an elegant salad, fragrant with the anise scent of fennel and the toasty nutty pecans. Grapes add the bright color and a sweetness that complements the tart vinaigrette dressing.
3/4 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Large pinch cayenne
Fennel Grape Salad
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups red and green seedless California grapes, halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups baby arugula
To make the pecans: Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a medium-size bowl, toss together the pecans, sugar, maple syrup, salt, cumin and cayenne. Spread in a single layer on a parchment or foil-lined small baking sheet and bake until browned and crisp, stirring once or twice, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
To make the salad: In a large salad bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add the grapes, fennel and arugula and toss. Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 209; Protein 2 g; Carbohydrate 22 g; Fat 14 g; 57 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 237 mg; Potassium 345 mg; Fiber 3 g.