From wine to jelly to raisins, grapes can be enjoyed in a number of ways. So it's no wonder that grapes are the second-most popular fruit (they come in a close second to oranges) and that growing and processing grapes is one of the world's largest food industries.
One of the earliest cultivated fruits, grapes were introduced in biblical times, and the consumption of wine is an important motif in both Old and New Testament literature.
Grapes come in a number of different shades (blue, black, green, red, golden, blue-black and purple). There are more than 60 species and a staggering 8,000 varieties of grapes.
Grapes are known as the "queen of fruit" because the fruit contains a polyphenolic phytochemical compound called resveratrol, a powerful anti-oxidant that has been shown to help prevent cancer, coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease and Alzheimer's.
Grapes have the added advantage of being juicy and flavorful but relatively low in calories and cholesterol-100 grams of fresh grapes contain 69 calories and no cholesterol. Finally, grapes provide respectable amounts of copper, iron and magnesium, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Grapes can be incorporated into salads or even meat dishes to add depth and flavor. The recipe below was given to me by a friend who found a variation on the dish on www.foodnetwork.com. Both recipes incorporate grapes in a surprising way that gives the dishes an unusual flavor and richness.
Sausage, Grapes and Cabbage Entrée
6-8 chicken sausages (spicy or seasoned), pricked with a fork
1 medium red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound seedless grapes (purple or white)
1/2 pound Napa cabbage or coleslaw, sliced into 1/8-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Broil or grill the sausages until fully cooked. Transfer to a large casserole and cover. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil soft and lightly brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the grapes and cabbage. Cook until the cabbage is soft and half of the grapes have expanded, 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture over the sausages. Reheat the dish for 20 minutes or until steaming. Serve with crusty bread and, of course, a glass of wine.
P.S. Do you have any grape recipes to share?
Photo Credit: Zest-pk on Flickr.