What’s in season: The Southern California grape season is here, typically starting in July and extending a few months into October, with stands featuring a wide variety of the fruit, from early-maturing Black Emerald and sweet Japanese Kyoho, to crisp Summer Royal, plump seedless Flame and seedless Thompson table grapes. Grapes such as the Thompson might be green at the supermarket, but look for the golden, almost amber ones at farmers markets for real depth of flavor. Check with the farmer for particular flavor characteristics and suggestions for using.
What to cook: Add fresh grapes to salads, parfaits and cheese platters, for both color and flavor. Or throw them quickly on the grill or roast until blistered to bring out jammy, caramelized notes perfect served alongside meat, chicken and fish. Dot fresh focaccia with dark grapes or sauté Concord grapes for a simple sauce to pair with pork tenderloin. Slice white or green grapes and add to rice stuffing with roasted chicken, or do a quick pickle with grapes for an easy appetizer.
What’s on the horizon: Passion fruit and watermelons are just beginning to show up at various stands.
Click on the photo gallery for some of our favorite grape recipes.
CONCORD GRAPE FLATBREAD
Total time: About 1 hour, plus rising time | Serves 16
Note: From former test kitchen director Donna Deane.
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
3 cups flour, divided, plus additional for kneading
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups Concord grapes (about 1 pound grapes)
1. In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir to dissolve. Stir in 1 cup of the flour until smooth. Cover and let stand 1 hour.
2. Transfer the yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, one-half teaspoon of the fennel seeds, one-half teaspoon of the rosemary, the orange zest and the salt. With a fork, beat in 1 cup of the flour until blended. Beat in the remaining 1 cup flour. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and satiny.
3. Place the dough into a large bowl lightly coated with 1 teaspoon olive oil and turn to coat all sides of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and knead lightly for a minute, then pull and shape into a 16-by-9-inch rectangle on a baking sheet.
4. In a small pan, heat 1 teaspoon of the chopped rosemary in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over low heat just until warm. Brush the top of the dough with it. Let the dough rise until puffy and doubled, about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the grapes and pat them dry. You can either remove the seeds from the grapes or leave them intact. They can be removed quite easily without cutting the grapes in half: Insert the tip of a small knife into the stem end of the grape and lift out the seed. Toss the grapes with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and let stand while the dough is rising.
6. Using your fingers, make random indentations to cover the entire surface of the bread, as with focaccia. Gently press the grapes into the indentations to keep them in place. Sprinkle the top of the bread with the remaining 1 teaspoon fennel. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until browned and the grapes have popped open. Remove from the oven to a wooden board to cut into serving-size pieces.
Each serving: 137 calories; 3 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 3 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 38 mg. sodium.
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