Along with delicious food, gifts and holiday cheer, reuniting with friends and family is also appreciated. Whether it’s a cozy weekend dinner with friends or a party time, you can spruce up any gathering with unique small plates and appetizers.
Make the season special with California grapes, which are plentiful until January, as an ingredient in your favorite dishes or by decorating with them for colorful pops of red, green and black. If time is of the essence, they also offer an easy, fresh, and healthy snack or side dish that adds color and flavor to your table.
As a versatile ingredient that adds taste and visual appeal, grapes can help you create memorable appetizers that will surprise and delight your friends and family. For easy and delicious appetizers, turn to the Tricolor Grape Pizza with Goat Cheese and Thyme or the Smoked Chicken and Raisin Bruschetta, each offering simple but tasty ways to please a crowd.
Send your guests home with Easy Grape Compote, or give it as a fun host or hostess gift for friends and family, so they can enjoy a little taste of the holidays even after the end excitement.
Find appetizers, meals, desserts and more at grapesdecalifornia.com.
TRICOLOR GRAPE PIZZA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND THYME
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 1 pound of prepared pizza dough
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups green, red and black California grapes, halved
- 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 ounces of fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place the rack in the back of the oven and place the inverted baking sheet on top of the rack; heat oven to 500 F.
On a lightly floured surface, press pizza dough into a 10-inch round circle and cover with a cloth while preparing toppings.
Lightly dust a large baking sheet with flour. Stretch the pizza dough into an oval, about 14 x 10 inches, and place it on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with raisins, thyme and walnuts. Place the baking sheet on the baking sheet already in the oven and bake until the crust is bubbly and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle with goat cheese and Parmesan cheese. Season with pepper to taste. Transfer the pizza to the board, cut into pieces and serve hot.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 350 calories; 10 g of protein; 47 g of carbohydrates; 14 g of fat (36% of calories from fat); 2.5 g of saturated fat (6% of calories from saturated fat); 5 mg of cholesterol; 580 mg of sodium; 1g of fiber.
EASY GRAPE COMPOTE
Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 4 cups of black or red California grapes
- 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 2 strips of fresh lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon of high quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor, finely chop the raisins and sugar in pulses of one second. Transfer to a deep or medium skillet or large pot; stir in lemon zest, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 18 minutes until the fruits are tender.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and cornstarch, then stir into the raisin and butter mixture; simmer 6 minutes, or until desired consistency. Stir in the vinegar, if desired. Serve warm or chilled.
The cooled jam can be stored in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 160 calories; 0 g of protein; 41 g of carbohydrates; 0 g of fat; 0 mg of cholesterol; 170 mg of sodium; 1g of fiber.
SMOKED CHICKEN AND GRAPE BRUSCHETTA
Yield: 24 pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 French bread baguette
- 8 ounces (1 3/4 cups) smoked chicken breast, grated or cut into bite-sized strips
- 1 1/2 cups red, green or black seedless California grapes, halved
- 12 ounces of grated fontina, port or Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the grill to 550 F. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil and salt.
Put aside. Slice the baguette into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Brush baguette slices with garlic oil and place on a cookie sheet. Broil for about 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from the grill.
On each slice of bread, place about 1 tablespoon of chicken breast and three grape halves then garnish with 2 tablespoons of grated cheese.
Place cookie sheet about 8 inches from grill and broil 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped chives and pepper.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 125 calories; 7 g of protein; 9 g of fat (68% of calories from fat); 3 g of carbohydrates; 24 mg of cholesterol; less than 1 g of fiber; 154 mg of sodium.
FESTIVE AND FRUITFUL DECOR
Naturally beautiful, fresh grapes are a classic and simple way to decorate for the holidays. Consider these ways to spruce up your home and table:
- Drape bunches of red, green, and black grapes in decorative bowls and alternate with candles for dazzling centerpieces.
- Fill a flower vase with grapes and water for the color and texture to complement and support the flowers in the arrangement.
- Dazzle your ham or turkey plate with small bunches of grapes and fresh herbs.
- Accent a perfectly cooked steak with grape and rosemary kebabs for a colorful and fragrant sidekick.
- Decorate dessert plates and platters with sugar-glazed raisins for added sparkle.