Playing with Fire; or, How to Roast Grapes

In preparation for what promises to be a week straight from the fiery sandblasted surface of Mercury (OK, I may exaggerate a bit, but it’s supposed to get hot again this week), we hauled out the grill on Sunday afternoon to get some batch cooking knocked out for the week.  Because there’s nothing so amazing as arriving home from work, sweaty and hot and tired, and finding that dinner is waiting for you in the fridge in all it’s cool, already-cooked glory!

And you know how sometimes you get an idea in your head, and it just needs to happen rightnowthisveryminute?  No?  That’s just me?  Well OK then.  Anyhow.  Sunday afternoon found me staring at a bag of grapes and a freshly preheated grill.  I think we know where this is going, no?  Yes–the grapes were heading straight for the grill!  I don’t know if anyone has ever done this before (though I can’t be the first to decided that sweet grapes could use a liitle smoky undertone!), but it needed to happen in my back yard!

We have one of those grill baskets that’s essentially a sheet of metal with holes drilled through the bottom to keep smaller food pieces from falling through the grill grate–it was perfect.  I kept the grapes on their vines (well, I tried to anyway, some of them rolled off, as grapes are wont to do, but I barricaded the would-be escapees in between clumps that were still on their vines).  Once the coals were hot, I popped my basket directly over them (I wanted some blistering, blackening, and smoky flavors!).  It took just a few minutes to cook them, just till the skins started popping open.

Now, what do you do with freshly roasted black grapes?  Well, you eat a few while they’re still hot enough to burn your fingers (worth it; so so worth it).  And then, you turn them into a salad!  I had several ears of corn that we were also planning to grill (that’s why the grill was fired up, actually!), so I liberated a couple ears’ worth of kernels, added my grapes, some crispy-fried caramelized onions, and bit of bulgur.  Sort of like tabbouleh, without the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley–OK, not at all like tabbouleh except for the bulgur, but you get the idea!

With all the sweet flavors in the salad, I decided it needed a tangy counterpoint, so I made a quick dressing out of yogurt, garlic, mint, and lemon juice.  The I chilled everything for the few hours till dinnertime.  It was the perfect salad for a toasty summer evening!

Roasted Grape & Corn Salad with Tangy Mint Dressing

  • 1 c. bulgur
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 3 c. seedless black grapes
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1 small onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 T. finely chopped fresh peppermint
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • pinch salt

For the salad:

  1. In a large bowl, pour boiling water over bulgur; cover and let sit undisturbed for 20 minutes, till bulgur is tender.  Drain off any excess water.
  2. Using a grill-basket or whatever apparatus works for you, grill grapes for 3-4 minutes, till skins start splitting.  Remove from heat and let cool a bit before removing from vines.  Add to bowl with bulgur.
  3. Grill sweet corn, about 10 minutes on a side.  Let cool a bit before shucking.  Remove kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.  Break up any “planks” of corn into bite-size pieces.  Add to bowl with bulgur.
  4. While grapes and corn are grilling, in a small saute pan, melt butter over low heat.  Add onions and let cook, mostly undisturbed, until caramelized and crispy.  Remove from pan.  Chop finely and add to bulgur mixture.  Add chickpeas and toss bulgur and mix-ins together gently.  Refrigerate till ready to serve.

For the dressing:

  1. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, peppermint, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Stir to mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve (the longer you let this sit before serving, the better!).
  2. To serve, dish up salad on individual plates and drizzle with the dressing.

Serves 6-8 as a side.

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