Grape Expectations

For any cook – low sodium or not – constant inspiration is essential to keeping your food fresh and fun.  And there are two places, in particular, where I know I can always find my cooking muse: the farmer’s market and TV cooking shows.

A few nights ago, while trying to distract myself from the third day of a liquid-only diet, I watched one of the best Iron Chef America shows I had seen in a while.  Battle Grape.  Now, I had already been introduced to the surprisingly, sweet compliment that grapes can add to savory dishes.  Boy had made a creamy, green grape and butter sauce for halibut once before and I had attempted a make a green grape gremolata for sardines as well.  But after watching Chef Cat Cora and Chef Holly Smith battle it out on national TV, I realized that I had hardly tapped into the power of this simple, snack food.

In case you want to experience the battle word for word – literally – here is an actual transcript, with commercials included.  But if you are in the mood for more of a quick read, I’ll give you the highlights.  My four favorite grape adaptations were: (1) fennel, pickled grape, and yellowtail hamachi salad; (2) roasted grape risotto; (3) chard leaves stuffed with sauteed grapes; and (4) white grape gazpacho. Each plate looked gorgeous and delicious.  I know these are four recipes that I will, someday, attempt on my own and grape preparations that will find their way into simpler applications as well.

But to leave you with some food for thought, here is a low sodium recipe for white grape gazpacho.  Since I have yet to make it myself, I’m thinking some of you readers may get to it before I do.  And if you do, send pictures my way (sodiumgirl@gmail.com) and you might just see your low sodium creation on the pages of this site.

Chow on.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds seedless white grapes, rinsed well
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 4 scallions, green parts only
  • 2 ½ cups  half & half
  • 1 ½ cups crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons  white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 pieces of toasted, no salt added bread

Directions:

1. Place grapes, cucumber, scallions, pine nuts, and toasted bread into the food processor and pulse about 10 times.

2. Add the half & half, crème fraiche, vinegar, olive oil, and ½ cup of the dill and blend for 1 minute until smooth.

3. Season with white pepper. Chill thoroughly.

4. Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with the remaining chopped dill and grape halves.

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Filed under brunch, cooking, lunch, recipe box, tips & tricks

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