feta with grapes and walnuts
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Grapes surely must be the most wonderful fruit: wine and raisins; need I say more? They go with cheese, they make good juice, salads – both sweet and savoury – and jelly. They look sexy. They are neat to eat. They come in just a few varieties (or do I know nothing?) helpfully differentiated by colour.
Thank heavens and science for seedless grapes. I do occasionally manage to buy seedy ones by mistake, usually great big ones from the local market, tempted by their size and inversely proportional price. But they have a certain charm like most produce untouched by cross breeding and cultivation interventionism – they have seeds! all the others are eunuch grapes? It transpires, of course, that they are not bread by seeding but by cloning their cuttings, poor grapes. On the other hand, if it was down to me, I’d be happy to see seedless lemons, stoneless cherries and pipless pomegranates; breed them however you can.
I have been drying grapes on a dehydrator each autumn, when they get ridiculously cheap and delicious: homemade raisins are something else entirely and I have to admit not many find their way off the dehydrator. And recently I’ve discovered roasted grapes – and I’m obsessed now.
I roast them like I like to roast summer berries when so plentiful they get a little tired: sprinkled with very little sugar and blasted with big brief heat. Grapes take a few minutes longer to get oozy and wrinkly which is how they are the best. They love balsamic vinegar and aren’t averse to a drizzle of olive or walnut oil.
They are great just with yoghurt and a pinch of granola for breakfast. They are a super good side to pork or chicken, roasted on the vine like tomatoes. But the harmony of the juicy, sweet, crunchy and salty in this salad of grapes, feta and walnuts is simple, genius and completely, droolingly delightful.
feta with grapes and walnutsServings: 2Time: about 45 minutes
- 200g (7oz) grapes
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp walnut oil plus more for drizzling
- 150g (5oz) feta
- 30g (½ cup) walnut pieces, freshly shelled
Pull all the grapes off the vine and place them in a shallow oven dish. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. Sprinkle the sugar over the grapes, drizzle the balsamic vinegar and the 2 tsp of walnut oil and toss about to coat.
Roast for 30 minutes. They will make a bit of a mess in the oven so if you want to take the trouble, pierce each grape with a knife before baking. Leave them in the dish to cool to room temperature.
Transfer the grapes with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Crumble in the feta and break the walnuts over it into small pieces. Toss everything gently, drizzle with the roasting juices and more walnut oil and serve with crusty bread or sourdough toast.