Grapes are, I think, so unexpected in any form other than right off the stem for a snack. My parents always had a colander full of grapes near the sink, and the grandkids would snack off them constantly. So grapes have been sort of stuck in the realm of kid food to me, but this sophisticated dish dispels that idea quick smart. It has the effortless sophistication in food that I strive toward, but don’t always reach. And the broody color of the softened grapes garnished with a woody sprig of rosemary makes a striking and lovely Autumn treat.
This is one of the simplest, but still elegant appetizers in my repertoire. Toss grapes with oil and vinegar and roasting them creates this sweet, tangy rich topping for creamy goat cheese, with a wafting flavor of rosemary. I like dark, jammy black grapes, but fruity red grapes work as well. For me sherry vinegar or Jerez vinegar to have the perfect balance of richness and bite. I find balsamic a little syrupy for this, but use red wine vinegar if you need a substitute. You could also swap out the rosemary for another woodsy herb like thyme or marjoram. And of course you could serve the grapes with a different cheese, like brie or camembert, but I find the saltiness of goat cheese the perfect foil.
- 3 cups black or red seedless grapes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- kosher salt and pepper
- 3 large stalks rosemary, plus one for garnish
- 1 4-ounce log soft goat cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the grapes with olive oil, sherry vinegar, honey, salt and a generous dose of ground black pepper in an 8 by 8 inch ceramic baking dish. Tuck the rosemary stalks among the grapes. Roast the grapes for 20 - 30 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the grapes are soft beginning to collapse.
- Let the grapes cool for about 5 minutes, remove the rosemary stalks, then spoon over the goat cheese. Garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary. Serve with hearty crackers or baguette slices.