Roasted Grapes and a Really Good Fall Appropriate Salad
Leftovers always make the best salads, but today they came together just so, like I had made each ingredients specifically for this salad (of course I had not). But, maybe next time I will do it on purpose. This is also a lesson in making leftovers work as salads no matter what. Because leftovers are MVPs of lunch and if you're still making a separate dinner and lunch meal I don't know how many hours have in your day but I'm interested in this world in which you life. I don't live there.
I have never been big on fruit in salads (I truly hate spinach and strawberry salads) until I started using cooked fruit in salads. Charred jammy dates, grilled August peaches, and of course roasted grapes. Each of these has a perfect sweet and savoury component, adding a good balance to especially bitter greens (endive, escarole, radicchio), without the cloying sweetness of a sweet vinaigrette or dried cranberries (I still don't understand why these are so popular). These are so great to keep around because not only are they delicious in salads and other savoury applications (roasted grapes with fresh cheeses or pork is *chef's kiss*), but they are an instant upgrade to plain cakes (think sponge), oatmeal, or ice cream. Especially if grapes were on sale and you bought too much forgetting that you live in a house with only one other person and now they're getting a little bit soft but you only like them when they're crunchy like apples, this is a perfect recipe for you!
Here's how it's done:
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp honey
½ orange, zested and juiced
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg (optional)
pinch of salt
pinch of ground ginger (optional)
1 lb red grapes
1 sprig rosemary and/or thyme
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Melt butter, honey, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (if using) and salt in a small pot over medium heat. Drizzle butter mixture over the grapes and toss lightly with the rosemary. If you're short on time, just throw it all together on the baking tray, stir it all together and you'll be fine. Roast for 10- 15 minutes, until soft, warm and syrupy.
Store in the fridge for 5-7 days, or freeze them in a tight sealed container for about 3 months. This isn't a set in stone rule but rather me encouraging you not to keep random condiments in your freezer for a whole year.
Super Fall Appropriate Salad
So now you have some roasted grapes kicking around in the fridge, what else do you need to make a delicious salad? Here's approximately what I had on hand.
Ingredients for a fairly large salad for 1:
2 cups lettuce - I had green leaf but I think some bitter notes (radicchio, escarole) and or hearty greens (kale) would work well here
1/2 cup leftover roasted brussel sprouts
1/4 cup roasted grapes (recipe above)
1/2 cup leftover roasted sweet potato
some sort of protein (I had salmon but I think chicken might honestly be better, chickpeas would also be great)
1/2 tsp zaatar (dried herbs in salads is under rated)
a few tbsp nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, or pumpkin seeds would be ideal), preferably toasted
½ cup tahini
6 Tbsp lemon juice, about 1 lemon
¼- ½ cup water to thin
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 small garlic clove, grated
4 tsp maple syrup
Pinch cayenne pepper
Toss all ingredients together and mix well with the dressing. Highly recommend letting the dressing sit for a while if you're using kale, and then adding all the other ingredients.
For the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.
A final note...
Here are a few rules of thumb about makes a salad delicious:
- Think outside your box with lettuces: if you always use green leaf, try a delicate boston, if you always use arugula mix in radicchio, if you always use romaine, try arugula, if you haven't tried escaraole, try that too.
- Add something bright: this can come from an acidic vinaigrette, something deeply crunchy or fresh like orange segments
- Add something sweet: of course fruit works here, but as does a honey roasted vegetable, or candied nuts
- Add something starchy: this adds a necessary heft to a salad so you're not just eating vegetables. Think charred corn in the summer, farro in the winter, roasted squash in the fall.
- Add something crunchy: nuts and seeds are always your easiest, and my favourite, bet, but of course croutons also work.
- Add some protein: again, this turns 'bowl of vegetables' into a meal.
- Add something fun: olives, cheese, sundried tomatoes, kimchi, marinated or pickled vegetables. Get creative, get random, because this is the good stuff.
I hope this at least inspires you to use up your leftovers and to cook your fruit! For those of you asking if it's 'no longer good for you' to eat fruit covered in honey and butter, the answer is it's actually better because it's tasty as hell. You're still eating fruit, net positive here.