The Edgy Veggie

Grape expectations for 2013



Turkish Eggplant Salad

In kitchens from Tuscany to Tunisia, raisins are used to add a note of sweetness to savory dishes, like this warm salad. Featuring South Florida eggplant, now in season, this dish can be served over fresh greens or whole grains, as a filling for whole wheat pita, as a dip for vegetables or enjoyed on its own. It keeps covered in the fridge for several days, during which time the flavors mellow and deepen.

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium eggplant chopped into 1-inch cubes, about 4 cups

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved, if large

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoon raisins

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons pine nuts

1 handful fresh dill, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together chopped garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, onions. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.

Spread vegetables on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for half an hour, or until vegetables darken slightly and eggplant becomes meltingly tender. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and avoid sticking.

Remove from oven and stir in raisins, cumin and cinnamon. Cool mixture slightly and transfer to a serving bowl or platter.

Pour pine nuts into a shallow ovenproof bowl and roast for 5 to 8 minutes or until they’re golden and smell buttery.

Meanwhile, gently mix chopped dill into eggplant. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Scatter pine nuts on top.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 190 calories (51 percent from fat), 11.8 g fat (1.3 g saturated, 6.2 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 3.8 g protein, 21.3 g carbohydrates, 7.1 g fiber, 11 mg sodium.

In Spain — and in many parts of South Florida — the new year is celebrated by eating 12 grapes at midnight. The grape tradition may have begun when, after an abundant grape harvest, the king of Spain gave grapes to all his subjects. Or maybe it’s a story created after drinking champagne, another New Year’s Eve tradition.

Grapes, with their excellent antioxidant resveratrol, deserve attention all year long, and can be enjoyed in ways that don’t risk hangover. Welch’s sparkling grape juice cocktail ($2.79, 750 milliliters) makes your New Year’s Eve festive and fizzy. Available in white grape, red grape, blueberry grape and cranberry, it’s bubbly and bottled to look like champagne. The white grape juice is even champagne-colored, but as with the other flavors, it has a concentrated grapey sweetness you won’t confuse with Veuve Clicquot. An 8-ounce serving contains 160 calories. Find it in most supermarkets.

Grape seed oil offers a healthy dose of vitamins including vitamin E and minerals including zinc. It’s light-bodied and neutral-tasting, with a high smoke point, making it ideal for baking and sautes. It costs less than olive oil, too. A 500-milliliter bottle of Sadaf brand costs $4.19 and is available at Whole Foods. Like all oils, one tablespoon of grape seed oil contains 120 calories.

The marketing folks in Washington state decided grapes need a new spin and came up with Rainier Fruit’s Grapples ($5.99, 4-pack clamshell or $2.99 for a 4-pack sleeve). Pronounced grape-els, they’re apples soaked in Concord grape juice and artificial grape flavoring. They look like apples, have perfect appley crunch, and taste like. . . fake grapes. If you’re a child crazy about grape soda, this will seem brilliant. If you’re an adult, this feels somewhere between perplexing and wrong. Find Grapples in your Publix produce section.

We prefer an apple to be an apple, a grape to be a grape. Or for a grape to a be raisin. Stock up on raisins (once unsuccessfully marketed as dried grapes) now while they’re specially priced for holiday baking (Sun Maid raisins $2 for12 ounces, Sun Maid white raisins, $3). They’re pantry-friendly. Wishing you a great and grapey one.

Ellen Kanner writes about vegetarian concerns. She blogs at

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