What’s For Dinner? v.17.16: World’s Easiest Fall Recipe

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Italian sausage cooked with red seedless grapes, with balsamic vinegar stirred in. Red Russian kale in the background.

Just two “real” ingredients — and it’s from Gourmet !

Here’s the short version; quantities and times are below:

 Cook sausages in olive oil; add grapes and cook till soft, stir in balsamic vinegar.

Fall, as all wine-lovers know, is the season of the grape harvest. But not all grapes go into wine (think of it!) They are such delicious little fruits, and lovely to eat as a snack, but a recipe where they are actually cooked surprised me.

We made this dish for my late father-in-law, and he loved it, but he was astonished to learn that the recipe was from Gourmet [R.I.P.]. A lot of people assumed Gourmet just featured “fussy food” — y’know, the kind you arrange with tweezers? — but really what they offered was food that was absolutely delicious. 

Two ways to buy grape at Berkeley Bowl: from a large bin, or in a compostable, light cardboard
Two ways to buy grapes at Berkeley Bowl: in a compostable cardboard “basket” with grape leaf on top, or from a monster-sized bin. There are also plastic-packaged ones, but why?
Part of the sausage section at Berkeley Bowl West, 221021
House-made sausages for sale at Berkeley Bowl. They are wrapped in butchers’ paper for purchase — no plastic!

This recipe, from the “Seasonal Kitchen” feature in the October 2005 issue, uses seedless (!!!) red grapes, sausages, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Period. If you search the Epicurious site for “sausages with grapes,” or for the actual title, “Italian Sausages with Red Grapes,” you will not find the recipe. However if you Google it, you’ll find it — on Epicurious, here

This is a great recipe to present in “per-person” quantities. Easy to cook for one, or for a family (if you have a big enough pan).

Italian sausage” is the US term for pork sausages with fennel. Wikipedia tells me that the “hot Italian” variety has red pepper flakes added, and the “sweet” variety has sweet basil. I didn’t know that. 

A note for the vegetarians (hey, SG) — Impossible now has Italian sausages, both mild and hot. We used a mild one in a pasta sauce recently and it was just fine. I will try making this sausages-with-grapes recipe soon with Impossible sausages and report back.

Sausages with Grapes — quantities for *one* serving:

  • 1 Italian “sweet” or mild (not hot) sausage (about 1/3 lb)
  • ~ 1 tsp olive oil (but this is not baking — y’know: “some”)
  • ~ 1/3 lb (5 – 6oz or so) seedless (!!!) red grapes. My favorites are “Crimson.”
  • 2 tsp or so balsamic vinegar — not the fancy stuff

Depending on the thickness of your sausages, the cooking time will vary. I use a cast-iron pan and heat it on medium-high, add the oil, and when it’s heated, lower the heat to medium, add the sausages and cook about 4 to 5 minutes on a side, till they’re well browned. They will continue to cook in the next step.

While the sausages are browning, wash up the grapes and dry them a bit (I keep a kitchen towel on deck at all times just for drying fruits and veggies), then add the grapes to the browned sausages. Cook, stirring every couple minutes so they don’t burn on one side, until the grapes are softened and the sausages are completely cooked, 12 minutes or so. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and serve. The recipe says to salt and pepper to taste at this point. I don’t ever salt this — sausages bring their own saltiness! — and I always forget the pepper, but perhaps I shouldn’t.

Did I mention to be sure to get seedless grapes? 

A large handful (12 stems) Red Russian Kale from our garden! This serves two of us.
12 stems of Red Russian kale from our garden. This served two of us, sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper, and then sprinkled with water, covered, and steamed till tender. I happened across a six-pack of the baby plants at Grocery Outlet in late September, and they are very happy!

A great accompaniment to this recipe is mixed greens, sauteed with minced garlic. Other bold veggies also work well — Brussels sprouts, for example, or collard greens. For dinner last night (source of the main photo), I opted for Red Russian kale from our garden — shown in the photo at left.

A good beer-like substance goes well with this dinner, though as mostly-wine-drinkers, we usually have a simple red — some tempranillo or zin, or our favorite Spanish bargain, Protocolo. If you drink, drink responsibly 🙂

What’s for Dinner? is a Saturday evening get-together where friends share recipes, talk about good food and help others answer culinary questions.

We welcome you to our virtual table every Saturday evening 4:30 PT/7:30 ET. If you would like to write a post for an upcoming date just send a message to ninkasi23!

So — what’s for dinner at your place?

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