Warm Grape Crostini
Warm grapes anyone?
Okay, admittedly, that does not immediately sound appealing, but this brunch time crostino will make a believer out of even the most serious of doubters.
Here I wanted to capture the myriad flavours that can be expressed with the humble grape. The grape is a marvelously versatile fruit, yielding wine, brandy, grappa, jelly, raisins and more. This offering showcases the diversity of flavour and texture of the grape, from fresh to grilled to roasted, each variant offering a nuanced flavour and texture experience.
When exposed to heat, the sugars in the grape become more pronounced and expressed, and when placed next to the fresh original, the dichotomy is wildly apparent. The tangy goat cheese spread beneath, balanced by the earthy thyme and bitter watercress and walnut contrasts this sweet topping. So although it is sweet, it is a perfect accompaniment to any brunch menu.
In this recipe, I used and apricot and cranberry bread from my local bakery, but you can use almost any sweet-ish bread either with or without fruit. I only recommend ensuring that it is sturdy and dense to hold up to the robust toppings it carries.
1 cup of red seedless grapes
1 cup of green seedless grapes
1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil, divided
3 cipollini onion
6 ounces of goat cheese, softened to room temperature
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon of fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon of honey1 loaf of fruit bread or other sweet dense bread cut into 12 slices
¼ cup of walnut pieces
½ cup of watercress
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon of coarse finishing salt, such as Maldon
Preheat oven to 350F
Drizzle the cipollini onions with a small amount of oil and roast until softened, about 15- 20 minutes. Once cooked, allow to cool, then peen and chop
Set a grill pan over medium heat and brush with oil
Take all but 5 of the red grapes and place them in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with a scant amount of oil
Once the oven reaches temperature place the grapes in the oven and roast for 10 – 15 minutes, until softened but not mush, keep an eye on them
Meanwhile, take all but 5 of the green grapes and slice them each in half lengthwise
Once the grill pan is hot, carefully place each of the grapes, cut side down onto the grill and grill until char marks appear, about 3-5 minutes
Remove the grapes from the oven and pan and allow to cool
Place the cut bread on the still hot grill, and toast on both sides until crisp
In a bowl combine the softened goat cheese, cipollini onions, thyme, orange zest and juice, honey and pepper and stir to combine thoroughly
Take the reserved, uncooked grapes and slice each, widthwise into round discs, about 3 discs per grape
Assemble the crostini:
Smear each of the grilled bread slices with the goat cheese mixture
Next, adorn each with a few leaves of watercress and a helping of the roasted, grilled and fresh grapes
Finish with a sprinkling of walnut pieces and finishing salt