Planning a barbecue, backyard evening dinner or casual get-together with friends to celebrate the summer season? Think California grapes for easy entertaining. They’re a versatile and delicious way to add colour and taste to everything from the table itself to the foods you serve. Try these great grape ideas and let the party begin:
• Add Signature and Flair. Grapes add an unexpected pizzazz to dishes, not to mention a sweet taste and healthy boost, from appetizers to desserts. Update caprese salad skewers by threading small balls of mozzarella, basil leaves and grapes, instead of tomatoes. Add sliced grapes into grain-based salads, sauté grapes with prawns or poultry, skewer grapes on beef or chicken shish kebabs, and blend them into salsas and sauces to complement entrees.
• Elegant and Edible. Grapes add colour, beauty and interest to centerpieces. Tuck green grapes into a table garland of greenery, big white flowers and white votive candles. Use grapes instead of stones in the bottom of flower vases. And there’s nothing prettier or simpler than a lovely bowl or platter piled with colourful grapes. Grapes also make a great garnish. They’re a natural complement to a cheese tray, adding a sweetness to balance the saltiness of cheese. Frosted grapes make a pretty topping for desserts or displayed on dessert platters: brush small clusters of grapes with pasteurized liquid egg whites, place on a rack set over wax paper and sprinkle grapes with superfine granulated sugar, turning clusters to lightly coat. Gently shake off excess sugar, and let grapes dry, uncovered, at room temperature for about 2 hours.
• Think drinks. Garnish cocktails with grapes: float thinly sliced grape rings in a glass of bubbly. Skewer a stack of grapes on a stirrer for fruity drinks. Or use frozen grapes instead of ice cubes for a splash of colour and taste. Grapes make a delicious ingredient in drinks, too, like this lovely Black Grape Margarita. Rim the glass with coarse salt if you like it; otherwise, just garnish with a slice of lime.
• 1 cup black California grapes
• 2 shots (3 ounces) tequila
• 2 shots (3 ounces) sweet and sour mix
• 2 cups ice
• Lime slices for garnish
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a good blender and purée until blended and slushy, about two minutes. Serve in margarita glasses and garnish with a lime slice.