With warm summer weather comes the desire to lighten family meals and impress guests with thoughtful fare for backyard entertaining. Call on the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables for inspiration. For instance, simply adding a handful of grapes immediately adds taste, color, freshness and a healthy enhancement to any dish. All three colors of grapes – green, red and black – are easy to use, extremely versatile, and conveniently available.
California grapes provide a juicy, refreshing texture that complements many popular and often strongly spiced flavor profiles, including Asian and Latin offerings. With just 90 calories per 3/4-cup serving, grapes add a crisp, no-guilt lift to summer meals. You can also feel good about adding them into many other dishes because they are a source of antioxidants and other polyphenols, which may contribute to heart health.
Try these grape-enhanced summer recipes guaranteed to impress at your next summer gathering:
Banh Mi-Style Flatbread with California Grapes
1 (14-ounce) package prepared pizza dough
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
12 ounces chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 cups halved green seedless California grapes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, very thinly sliced
(Remove seeds for less heat)
Roll the pizza dough into a 10-by-14-inch oval on a lightly floured board. Transfer it to a baking sheet. Bake at 450 F for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet, and stir in the garlic and lemongrass paste; cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and soy sauce; stir-fry over medium-high heat until the chicken is cooked through. Place the carrots in a small bowl and stir in a pinch of sugar and the vinegar.
Spread the chicken mixture over the baked dough then sprinkle it with the carrots, grapes, cilantro, and jalapeno slices. Cut the flatbread into 8 square pieces.
Nutritional information per serving (2 slices):Calories 418; Protein 22 g; Carbohydrate 55 g; Fat 12 g (Sat. Fat 2g); 27 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 44 mg; Sodium 357 mg; Potassium 508 mg; Fiber 2 g.
Grilled Salmon Tacos with Grape Pico de Gallo
1 cup red seedless California grapes, chopped
1 cup green seedless California grapes, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
Small pinch salt
1 pound salmon fillets
As needed olive oil
To taste pepper
12 small corn tortillas
2 limes, cut into wedges
Prepare a grill for cooking over medium heat.
Put the grapes, onion, and jalapeno in a medium bowl. Season with salt and toss lightly. Cover and chill while you prepare the salmon.
Brush the salmon lightly with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until it’s cooked to your liking. Remove the salmon and keep it warm. Heat the tortillas briefly on the grill in batches until warmed.
To serve, coarsely chop the salmon and divide it between the tortillas. Top each taco with a heaping tablespoon of grape pico de gallo and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4. Serving suggestion: Black beans or grilled veggies would both be great side dishes.
Nutritional information per serving (3 tacos per serving): Calories 347; Protein 27 g; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fat 7 g (Sat. Fat 1g); 18 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 59 mg; Sodium 298 mg; Potassium 611 mg; Fiber 5 g.
Grapes from California are available May through January. For more information and recipe ideas go to grapesfromcalifornia.com or facebook.com/grapesfromcalifornia.