Friday, October 5, 2007

Concord Grape Bruschetta with Ricotta Salata & Thyme - a Recipe


There is a bacchanalian moment each autumn when I enter the greenmarket and am instantly swathed in the rich, punchy scent of grapes. Their perfume is overwhelming – especially remarkable considering New York City’s markets are open air – and comes not just from the heaps of jade Niagaras, rusty Larchmonts, and violet Concords, but also from the vats of fresh grape juice many farmers keep at their stands.

This is one of my favorite seasonal experiences, utterly sensory and decadent, and it happened here just the other day - the grape harvest is finally at its height. I love to cook with the fruit, and I think they’re just as sumptuous in savory dishes as they are in desserts.

Here I’ve roasted some extravagantly fragrant Concords with plenty of olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper before topping them with sweet, milky shavings of ricotta salata cheese and some earthy thyme. The traditional rubbing of garlic and drizzle of olive oil – which is what technically transforms grilled or toasted bread into bruschetta – really underlines the heady aromas and flavors. Served with a refreshing glass of wine at day’s end, these make a wonderful way to welcome a crisp autumn evening.


Makes 16 bruschetta

1 lb red or purple seedless grapes, preferably Concord
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 slices good white country bread
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
approximately 1 oz ricotta salata
5 fresh thyme sprigs

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Remove the stems from the grapes and arrange on a small baking sheet lined with foil. Toss with plenty of olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes until just softened and juicy.

When you’re almost ready to serve, grill or toast the bread on both sides. Cut each slice of bread in half. Immediately rub one side with the cut garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Divide the roasted grapes between the toasts, shave over a few small slivers of ricotta salata cheese with a “y” or speed peeler, and sprinkle over the thyme leaves. Serve immediately.

25 comments:

Joanne Rendell said...

the popping grapes with the crispy bread? what a wonderful combination!

Joanna said...

It has never occurred to me to roast a grape ... this wonderful recipe comes at the exact moment my friend Susan has given me a bag full of grapes from her allotment ... so I'm just going to make a really good loaf of bread - first things first!

Thanks Amanda ;)

Joanna

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jo, thanks! It's all pretty juicy and delicious, I must say! We'll have to picnic it up soon.

Joanna, I'm so glad this appeals to you! A grape bread will be a glorious thing, I'm sure of it! Can't wait to read about what you bake up.

Anonymous said...

I love ricotta salata and can't wait to try this recipe.

marisa said...

Just beautiful. That smell must be so wonderful!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Anonymous, thanks! It's a lovely cheese, isn't it? Mild and nutty - such a great foil for flavors throughout the year. Hope you enjoy!

Marisa, thank you! The smell is absolute heaven - it really tells me autumn is here more than all the gourds in the world! It's something I look forward to all year. Now I wish the temperature would get out of the 80s!

winedeb said...

Amanda you are so creative ! Of course I love grapes, mostly in the liquid state, and use them only in desert form. Now you have inspired me to go further (as soon as I can taste and smell again).
Now I can use those tiny champagne grapes in another way! Cool!

Gloria said...

Amanda, I find delicious this recipe, the ricotta is nice for many things, and the grapes!!!!I love it, Amanda, thanks Gloria

Anonymous said...

What a very unique recipe!

sognatrice said...

Aha! Another excuse to go out and buy ricotta salata! Yeah!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Winedeb, thank you! I'll bet roasted champagne grapes are lovely! I can't wait to see what you do with them, and I hope you feel much better very soon indeed, you poor thing!

Gloria, thank you! I'm so pleased you like the bruschetta - ricotta salata's great, isn't it?

Anonymous, thank you! I'm so glad you like.

Sognatrice, it's really such a useful one, isn't it? My Sicilian husband's obsessed with it. He grew up eating it, but I never had it until I moved to NYC and made some Sicilian-American friends.

Wendy said...

Roasted grapes? Never tried that. Know I'm going to love it though!

Jan said...

Beautiful photo. It looks perfectly delicious!

Cynthia said...

Amanda, I really love your food, it is so healthy and downright flavorful!

Susan said...

Oh, just a lovely combination of flavors here! I make a grape and fennel focaccia that I really enjoy. With so many grapes available at the farmers' market now, I'll be trying this one soon. Thanks!

Mercedes said...

Oh, I just love concord grapes, but I have to admit the seeds drive me batty. I'm generally a pretty rustic person, but I grew up with seedless grapes and I just can't get over it. There is a lovely seedless black grape called "black beauty" that I really enjoy.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Wendy, I hope you do try them! Thinking about the food you prepare, I really think you'd enjoy - let me know if you have the chance!

Jan, thank you! I hope you enjoy them!

Cynthia, you're very kind to tell me that! I'm really so pleased you like the recipes here - I truly love yours too!

Susan, thank you! That focaccia sounds absolutely divine! Do you use fennel bulb or seeds? Let me know if you have the chance. Really sounds right up my alley!

Mercedes, AGREED! I can't bear the seeds - such a lot of work, and I'm such a lazy girl. Fortunately, we get seedless Concords here - they're such a treat!

Jen said...

This looks absolutely amazing! Our grapes don't look that enticing, but I haven't tried roasting them, either.

Truffle said...

What a beautiful creation. I love all of these components, particularly roasted grapes and they sound simply delicious together. I may just have to make this as a solitary treat very soon!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jen, thank you! That's disappointing about your grapes, but roasting's a great way to bring the best out of mediocre fruit. Could salvage a disappointing harvest?

Truffle, thanks so much! I'm so pleased you like the sound of the bruschetta, and I think they make a fantastic solitary treat! I make a batch of the roasted grapes and keep the extras covered in the fridge. They reheat well as long as you're gentle with the heat.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Oh wow, Amanda! Those are just absolutely gorgeous! Sounds like such a spectacular flavor combination! Yum!

David Hall said...

You know what? I've never baked a grape! I've had them in savoury dishes such as stews and of course, lots with cheese and bread. But why not? I can imagine they sweeten up loads, so despite the fact grapes aren't exactly falling from the skies over here in soon to be freezing England, I'm going to get some and try this, maybe with a hard salty goats cheese. Brilliant!

Cheers
David

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jenn, thank you! I'm so pleased you like the idea of these bruschetta.

David, hard salty goat's cheese would be a revelation with the roasted grapes. Fantastic idea - I love your palate! So glad you like.

Peter M said...

Concord grapes are my absolute favourite grape. The sour skin and the sweet inside...yum!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Peter, I agree! It's such an incredible balance of flavor isn't it? Grape season is absolutely one of my all-time favorites!

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