When the weather gets hot, it’s natural to seek cooling remedies such as splashing in a pool, sipping iced beverages, and making meals that are quick to prepare and don’t heat up the kitchen.
Fresh grapes are a cooling ingredient that can refresh and elevate summertime meals with a burst of color, flavor and pleasing texture. For an easy but impressive main course, fire up the grill for Indian-Spiced Chicken and Grape Kebabs. After a quick marinade in coconut milk and southern Indian spices, grill for five minutes for a fast and tasty dish that keeps you out of the kitchen.
Enjoy the contrast between the spicy chicken and the caramelized, juicy grapes. For a fabulous finish, go all in with a refreshing Grape Tart with Lemon Cream for dessert. Using a store-bought, prebaked tart shell or graham cracker crust makes this an easy, no-bake confection.
California grapes are a versatile snack to have on hand throughout the summer as they are naturally healthy and hydrating. And emerging research suggests that the polyphenols found in grapes may help support skin health even during sun exposure.
Refrigerated or frozen, grapes make a delicious and cooling snack between meals. Pack washed grapes in a container or sealable bag to enjoy on a picnic, hike or day at the beach. Grapes can be stored unwashed in the refrigerator for up to two weeks; rinse immediately before eating or cooking and enjoy.
Indian-Spiced Chicken and Grape Kebabs
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 15 marinating; Cook time: 5 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup unsweetened, reduced-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 pound
2 dozen large red California grapes
2 large pinches salt (1/4 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or finely chopped fresh cilantro, for sprinkling
8 bamboo skewers, 8-inch length
Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.
For the marinade: in a mixing bowl, whisk the coconut milk, oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne. Set aside.
Cut the chicken breasts into 32 cubes, about 3/4-inch each; add to the marinade and mix well to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Alternately thread 4 pieces of chicken and 3 grapes onto each of eight 8-inch bamboo skewers.
Grill skewers over high heat until the chicken is firm and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes each side. Transfer skewers to plates or a platter and sprinkle with salt and fresh herbs.
Serving suggestions: Serve with steamed basmati rice or toasted naan flatbread.
Notes: To cook indoors, use the oven broiler. Line a shallow baking sheet with foil, shiny side down, and preheat the broiler. Broil the kebabs for 3 minutes, turn with tongs and broil about 3 minutes more, until chicken is firm and cooked through.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 220 Calories; Protein 23 g; Carbohydrate 22 g; Fat 4 g (16% Calories from Fat); Saturated Fat 1 g (4% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 65 mg; Sodium 220 mg; Fiber 1 g.
Fresh Grape Tart with Lemon Cream
Prep time: 15 minutes plus chilling
Yield: Makes 10 servings
1 prebaked tart shell or graham cracker crust
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
About 3 cups California grapes, halved
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream and 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk in the lemon juice. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the tart base, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange the grapes in concentric circles over the cream cheese mixture. Chill until ready to serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 Calories; Protein 3 g; Carbohydrate 32 g; Fat 12 g (43% Calories from Fat); Saturated Fat 7 g (25% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 50 mg; Sodium 110 mg; Fiber 1 g.