There were several things I expected to love about New England – the obvious contenders being pumpkins, cider, and all things fall – but never did I ever think that I would fall head over heels for grapes. Yes, grapes. But not just any grapes, Concord grapes. Rustic, dusty, dark little grapes that smell, well, like the epitome of grape. I brought them home from the farm stand and tucked them into the fridge as I pondered their fate. Every time I opened the fridge door an overwhelming – read: pleasant – waft of realistic grape jolly rancher filled the room. It. Was. Perfect.
Concord grapes were first developed in the mid 1800s in Concord, Massachusetts by a man named Ephraim Wales Bull. A few years later, the grape was used by a Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch (yes, that Welch) to create the first Concord grape juice. Since then the grape has been a fixture in non-alcoholic communion wines and lunch room peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the nation.
Sadly, these grapes don’t taste all that great as a plain old snack. The Concord grape is known as a “slip-skin” which means that the skin – which contains most of the intense grape flavor – easily pops off the pulpy centers. So Waldorf Salads, frozen for snacks, and other raw recipes don’t really mesh with these odd grapes. Thankfully, these olfactory wonders work well under a little heat.
I’m not entirely sure how I got there, but I think this is roughly what was going through my head at the time:
grapes…roasted grapes…roasted grapes are like freshly made flavorful raisins…raisins are my favorite part of Southern shredded carrot salad…but carrots can be roasted too…what if I roast them together…and throw some rosemary on there too?…then the whole house will smell like grape jelly…
And here we are.
So it might seem weird – roasted carrot and grapes – but trust me, it’s worth the odd looks around the house. The grapes burst a bit and create their own little jelly in the bottom of the pan which coats some of the carrots, staining them a lovely shade of purple. Sweet enough for the veg-averse, but not so sweet you feel like you’re eating a PBJ (with carrots).
Roasted Rosemary Carrots & Concord Grapes
serves 2 to 4
5-6 small to medium sized carrots, split in half lengthwise
1 medium bunch concord grapes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small roasting pan, arrange the carrots, grapes, and rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the carrots are just fork-tender. Some of the grapes will explode and create the best tasting glaze for the carrots. Serve warm as a side or on top of warmed bread, over couscous or quinoa, or over roasted chicken.