Balsamic Glazed Roasted Grapes With Lemony Ricotta : The Wimpy Vegetarian

 

I finally signed up for the October Unprocessed 2012 challenge hosted by Andrew Wilder, and yes I know the month is already one-third gone (how is that even possible?). But better late than never, I always say.

My delay didn’t stem from not believing in the concept. It’s a good one, and the right one; I think we all know that our diet – as a society – leans way too far on the side of processed foods. There have been books written about it by Michael Pollan; Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution campaigns at the schools; televised special reports on 60 Minutes; and a Michele Obama heavily publicized White House garden in an effort espousing the benefits of whole foods as part of her Let’s Move program for kids; along with a lower fat message being thrown in as a side kick. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have become the new hip food. Kale chips are now commonplace, hummus has replaced the French onion dip of my childhood.

I own that my own diet has migrated over the last few years to one that is more vegetarian, lower fat, and less processed in general, and yet when I took the October Unprocessed challenge last year, I honestly didn’t do so well after the first couple of days. I was completely defeated by sugar and wheat flour, my two biggest nemeses.

I love sugar. And there’s no controversy here – granulated sugar is processed, with few if any redeeming characteristics. But muffins, cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing, cookies, and cakes – sign me up. White granulated, brown, confectioners, turbinado / raw I love them all. There are substitute options of course: maple syrup, molasses, agave, honey, coconut nectar, and brown rice syrup which may or may not be better for you depending on what article you read. The point is, sugar is big business and this only scratches the surface.

So the challenge I’m taking this month in connection to October Unprocessed is to reduce my overall sugar intake by 50%, and perform some serious recipe tasting to develop recipes with sugar substitutes for the sugar I DO eat. Along the way, I’ll share what I learn from my research into sugar, and its substitutes, and from my experiments in the kitchen.

My question for you is: Do you think you can take the October Unprocessed challenge? Even for one day? Think about it and if the answer is yes, sign up, and either way check out Andrew’s site and read the daily posts he’s hosting on ways to do it.

I’ll lead it off with this simple little dessert that’s easy to make. The fruit flavor of the grapes deepen through a roasting process, slightly sweetened with a touch of honey. They are unequivocally the star of the show, the ricotta and mascarpone dollop a perfect accompaniment slightly sweetened with honey.

Balsamic Glazed Roasted Grapes with Lemony Ricotta: The Wimpy Vegetarian

 

Balsamic Glazed Roasted Grapes With Lemony Ricotta

     by Susan Pridmore

     Serves 2 – 4


Ingredients 

Roasted Grapes

  • 2 cups large red seedless grapes
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used blackberry honey)

Lemony Ricotta and Drizzle

  • 3 tablespoons ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese (or [make your own!
  • http://thewimpyvegetarian.com/my-pantry/fresh-mascarpone-cheese/])
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • zest from ¼ lemon
  • pinch salt
  • balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Wash and thoroughly dry the grapes. Lay them out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the dried herbs over the grapes, drizzle the honey on top, and roll the grapes around with your palms to coat them.

Roast for 45 minutes or until noticeably softened. The honey will be starting to caramelize around the grapes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Combine the ricotta, mascarpone, honey, lemon zest, and salt together in a small bowl. Mix well until smooth. Set aside.

Pour one cup of balsamic vinegar (not your best balsamic vinegar!) in a pot and bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the vinegar is reduced by at least half and reduced to a syrupy consistency. The best way to know when enough simmering is enough – watch the bubbles. When the bubbles start to get larger, mixed with smaller bubbles, you’re done. If the balsamic vinegar reaches the point of large lazy bubbles, you have gone a little too far.

Spoon the grapes onto a plate, placing a dollop of lemony ricotta on top. Drizzle with the reduced balsamic.

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14 Responses to “Balsamic Glazed Roasted Grapes With Lemony Ricotta” Subscribe

  1. Debra October 11, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    I just found your site (via a comment at MJs Kitchen). I love balsamic with sweet desserts. This looks fantastic and I love the idea of an unprocessed October. Does coffee count? If so, I have to decline already. :) Checking out your other recipes now.
    Debra recently posted..KC Retreats and EatsMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 11, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Debra! There’s a lot of controversy over what constitutes a processed food and what doesn’t. I’m thinking coffee and tea are fine, otherwise I’d be sunk too !! :-) but Andrew addresses this on the page the link goes to so that he can set some ground rules for the challenge.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Balsamic Glazed Roasted Grapes With Lemony RicottaMy Profile

  2. apuginthekitchen October 11, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Love this!!! Perfect light treat, after seeing the recipes for roasted grapes I have to try it, I had never thought to roast them but i can imagine how it intensifies that delicious grape flavor.
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Brandied Fig And Walnut LoafMy Profile

  3. Erika October 11, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Oh my gosh! What a super gourmet and delicious-looking dessert! I made balsamic glaze for the first time a month or so ago and drizzled it on top of ice cream, but it sounds like a great match for grapes and ricotta. Yumm.
    Erika recently posted..Pumpkin SconesMy Profile

  4. lizthechef October 11, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    This is my second year of the “Unprocessed” challenge and we do pretty well. I know that Andrew supports being realistic re the goals each of us sets in this challenge…I’m doing a guest post for the challenge later in the month and I was amazed that I could substitute honey for the sugar I have always used in making chutneys. Good luck to us all -
    lizthechef recently posted..Spicy Beef CobblerMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 11, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      I knew you were scheduled to be a contributor to Andrew’s effort and have been looking for your posting. I’m glad I hadn’t missed it and will be looking for it. Honey is a great substitute, but in baked goods it changes the consistency of say a cake over time due to its hydroscopic nature, so it may not always be the best choice. But it sounds PERFECT in a chutney. GREAT idea.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Balsamic Glazed Roasted Grapes With Lemony RicottaMy Profile

  5. TasteFood October 11, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    This sounds sublime. Love all of the flavors.
    TasteFood recently posted..Salted Caramel Blondie BarsMy Profile

  6. mjskit October 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    This is an incredible recipe! Very unique and full of flavor and that sweetness that both you and I love! And it doesn’t even have any sugar, just a touch of honey! I love it! Good for you to participate in the challenge!!! It will be interesting to see how you do. If this is how you are starting off, you are going to do great!
    mjskit recently posted..Pear Apple Cobbler – A Twist on an Old FavoriteMy Profile

  7. Norma Chang October 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I was going to participate but didn’t quite understand the rules about what is and what is not considered “unprocessed”. I will follow some of the blogs and hopefully participate next time.

  8. Hannah October 15, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    What a terrific treat you’ve created! I admit I’m not a big grape fan (unless it’s wine!) but roasting them sounds marvelous, and when you add ricotta and balsamic glaze…well, I know I’ll like it! Plus, grapes are my husband’s favorite and he’ll love it. Very creative!

    Sounds like you set a great goal for this month! Sugar is a tough one. I love to bake, and experimenting with other sweeteners has led to some success and some “oh well”…that’s what I appreciate about Oct Unprocessed – it gets you thinking and pondering changes.
    Hannah recently posted..Homemade Beef Jerky for October UnprocessedMy Profile

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