I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is. It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.
Walmart gives me a produce challenge each month to showcase one of their produce items. If you haven’t followed along on my journey towards appreciating fruits and veggies, I have roasted and churned a Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream, Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, created a Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, threw on my grill Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, churned Fresh Peach Sorbet, slow cooked my Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, wowed my family with a 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita, and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken is our weeknight staple now. What a journey it has been to appreciate the produce section.
Tips for Selecting Great Grapes
Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes. Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.
One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy. Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.
I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up. The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.
Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!
Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad
Recipe type: Side
- 1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
- 1 lb. fresh broccoli
- ½ cup light mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 packets Stevia
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 cups seedless red grapes
- 10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
- ½ cup pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
- Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
- Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
- Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.