Roasting fruit and vegetables is a great technique that is easy to do and only requires a tad more forethought. That extra step is rewarded in more potent flavors as the natural sugars are brought to the surface to caramelize. Roasted peaches with honey? Divine. Roasted strawberries and marscarpone on toast? Sinful. Roasted grapes? Delicious all by themselves. This time around I roasted way too many grapes though — a sale and eyes bigger than one's stomach will do that. As I was picking the grapes from the stems to store in the freezer I had a thought, "What if I made a granita with these?" Ten minutes and a blender later, I had my roasted grape puree. By lunch time the next day, I had my granita. And when dinner came around, I had the granita with a bold, spicy red. Roasting the grapes evaporates the water and brings out all their sugars, so by itself this granita is very sweet. Adding spoonfuls to a glass (or two) of red wine balances things out by adding dry, earthy notes for great harmony. It's a sophisticated dessert treat that you just have to try.
Roasted Grape GranitaServes 3 to 4 2 pounds red table grapes Heat the oven to 500° F. Rinse grapes thoroughly under water, dry, and then place on a baking pan. Place the baking pan in oven and roast for 20-25 minutes until the skin of the grapes is crisp and browned. If you have a lot of grapes you may want to intermittently turn them. Remove the roasted grapes from the oven and let cool. Remove grapes from stems, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain puree into a shallow baking dish through a fine mesh sieve. Place in the freezer and let chill for at least 3 hours, making sure to scrape dish with a fork and break apart every hour or so. You are aiming for a coarse granules with a flaky texture. Don't feel like you have to tend to it strictly, just scrape when you think about it and it'll come out great. When the granita is flaky, and slightly firm it's ready to be enjoyed. I usually wait until the next day for extra firmness. Scoop a few spoonfuls into a wine glass and then add 2-3 ounces of red wine (or as much as desired).
Additional Notes:• I tried this recipe with Concord grapes as well, but thought the red table grapes brought a more pleasing sweetness. • I also tried pairing the granita with a Petit Syrah, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Malbec. I originally was thinking of infusing the puree with some fresh thyme but couldn't find any this time of year. I think the wine adds enough earthiness that it wasn't necessary, and it also makes the recipe that much more simple to do.
(Images: Chris Perez)