A few years ago I had a tub of ricotta and decided to try out a recipe for ricotta pudding. And so began my affair with roasted grapes, for while the pudding turned out to be a bland and mealy affair, the roasted grapes that accompanied it were intensely flavourful and bursting with juice.
Over the years, I’ve served them with pan-seared duck breast, on toast with ricotta and honey, and as a sorbet. It makes a wonderfully refreshing and tart palate cleanser, and is perfect at the end of a rich meal.
Roasted Grape & Balsamic Vinegar Sorbet
5 cups (2 lb) red seedless grapes, stems removed
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 425F.
Roast grapes with sugar and balsamic vinegar for 10-12 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to prevent them from sticking. They should be tender and juicy, but not bursting or falling apart.
Allow grapes to cool, then add honey and puree in blender. Strain to remove pulp, if desired – I like to keep the pulp in, since the skins of the grapes add a chewy texture and a bit of bitterness. Chill thoroughly in fridge, then churn in an ice cream maker. Transfer to a container and freeze for at least 8 hours.
Note: This recipe makes a very soft sorbet that can be scooped with a regular spoon. To make a firmer sorbet, decrease the sugar (and the balsamic vinegar accordingly).
Salted Pine Nut Brittle
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1 cup pine nuts, toasted
Heavily grease a baking sheet.
Over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, melt sugar, butter and sea salt together. Brush down any sugar crystals that stick to the side of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. When the mixture reaches hard crack stage (ie. is a dark amber and 300F on a candy thermometer), stir in pine nuts and quickly pour out onto baking sheet, using a spatula to spread the brittle.
Allow to cool thoroughly, and break into pieces.