SOURCE: California Table Grapes

November 10, 2011 05:00 ET

Holiday Traditions Enhanced With Grapes

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Nov 10, 2011) - (Family Features) What can possibly make the holidays easier and fun, more delicious and sweet, more festive and bright, and yet traditional all at the same time? The answer is fresh grapes. Luckily, grapes from California are in plentiful supply in all colors -- red, green and black -- throughout the holiday season.

For a dinner or buffet, fresh grapes can be added to two favorite sides, stuffing and cranberry relish, with delightful and satisfying results. There are many familiar stuffing ingredients in Wild Rice Stuffing with Grapes and Hazelnuts, but the distinction in the dish is the wild rice, the toasted hazelnuts and fresh grapes. The grapes add a warm, still-juicy brightness to the stuffing, one that's perfect with any kind of poultry, from turkey to game hens to goose.

In Grape Cranberry Relish, two seasonal fruits work very well together. Grapes provide natural sweetness, so the amount of sugar that's added to quiet the strong tartness of cranberries is much reduced compared to similar recipes. The relish is a nice blend of still-noticeable grapes in a sauce that's remarkably luscious.

Pluck the gift of grapes this holiday season and you'll enjoy every juicy bite no matter how you choose to serve them. For more recipes, visit www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.

Make Grapes Your Healthy Holiday Ally

  • Fresh grapes are low in calories -- just 90 per 3/4 cup serving -- yet are satisfying and very, very good for you. Grapes of all colors are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may help contribute to a healthy heart.

  • Snack on grapes before going out. They'll fill you up, so you can graze in moderation.

  • Offer grapes on appetizer plates and as a side so friends and family can share in the goodness of this beautiful fruit.

Quick Tips for Holiday Entertaining with Grapes
Fresh grapes are a versatile fruit with multiple uses.

  • Grapes make for easy decorations and centerpieces in bowls and on platters or draped from a cake plate.

  • Grapes can be easily "frosted" with sugar, spices and finely chopped nuts. Simply wet or dip clusters in liquid gelatin before rolling grapes in your favorite mixture. Use them to decorate cookie plates, cakes, puddings, mousses and more.

  • Looking for an easy hostess gift? Wrap grape clusters -- multiple colors work best -- in tissue paper and place in a pretty basket, tied with a ribbon.

  • Grapes are a quick and easy potluck treat, guaranteed to please, especially when you have very little time to throw something together.

Cranberry Grape Relish
Yields: 3 cups
2 cups red seedless California grapes
1 12-ounce package cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 orange, juiced and zested
1/2 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until thick and shiny.

Let cool thoroughly, then store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week. Serve alongside roast turkey, pork or ham.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Grapes and Hazelnuts
Yields: 6 1/4 cups
2 cans (28 fluid ounces total) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
4 slices bacon, diced 1/4-inch
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
1 large onion (1 1/2 cups chopped), diced 1/4-inch
2 stalks (3/4 cup chopped) celery, diced 1/4-inch
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, fresh, minced
1 teaspoon thyme, fresh, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/4 cup parsley, fresh chopped
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 cups California seedless grapes, rinsed

In heavy saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add wild rice and stir. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for one hour, until rice is tender and has popped open.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in fry pan over medium until almost crisp, about 8-10 minutes.

Add butter to bacon pan, then add onions, celery, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Remove from heat and fold in parsley, hazelnuts and grapes.

Add rice with any remaining liquid in pan to vegetable mixture and toss well to combine.

Stuffing may be used to fill turkey, game hens, or chicken. Stuffing may also be baked separately in a casserole dish covered with foil; bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes until hot throughout.

To toast hazelnuts, place in 350°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes. Rub in a clean dishtowel to remove skins.

Note: If you make ahead and refrigerate, cook time will be 30 to 40 minutes until hot.

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