green salad w/grapes, goat cheese & candied pecans

green salad w/grapes, goat cheese & candied pecans

This week I saw some things at the grocery store that I’d never seen before. They were in the produce department, right next to the cartons of black mission figs (buy one get one free this week! yay!). They were big, round, purple and the label said they were grapes. Muscadine grapes. But, these were unlike any grape I’d ever seen before.

First of all, they were huge. About the size of a big gumball, I’d say. The skin looked more like the skin of a plum than a grape. And they were very, very dark purple — almost black. I bought some because I was intrigued, and because they were half price. I was so intrigued that I ate one as soon as I got home and immediately googled them. According to Wikipedia and the label on the inside of the carton, Muscadine grapes are native to the U.S. and reach their peak during the hottest months of the summer. They thrive in hot and humid places, which explains their appearance at my local grocery store. Muscadines are used to make wine and preserves and are full of healthy goodness.

And the taste? Delicious. Same juicy sweetness of a purple grape, but much meatier, like an apricot. The only downside is their size. Muscadines aren’t very conducive to popping in your mouth like regular grapes. These are definitely 2-bite bad boys, which rules them out for snacking in my book.

green salad w/grapes, goat cheese & candied pecans

I contemplated using them to make a sauce for pork chops, but didn’t have any pork in the fridge. I did have some fresh greens and goat cheese, though. So I candied some pecans and made a salad. A really good salad. The sweet and juicy grapes were a perfect contrast to the tangy goat cheese, and the spiced and candied pecans added just the right amount of sweet crunch. I could eat this salad every day.

Muscadine grapes get an A+ in my book, but this salad would be just as delicious with your standard red or purple grapes. I think the pecans steal the show anyway…

Green Salad with Grapes, Goat Cheese & Candied Pecans
Note: The recipe for candied pecans yields enough for 4 to 6 salads. Store any extra nuts in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They won’t last that long anyway :)

For the pecans:
8 oz. Pecan halves
1 tbsp. natural cane sugar
1 tbsp. honey (I used some great, raw and unfiltered local honey)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of cardamom (optional, but recommended)

For the salad:
4 handfuls of mixed greens
10 muscadine grapes, quartered and seeded
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
pinch coarse salt
freshly ground pepper

First, candy the pecans. Preheat the oven to 300°. Place the pecans on a parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle/drizzle with the sugar, honey, cinnamon and cardamom. Use your fingers (or a spoon if you must) to mix everything together and make sure the pecans are coated. Bake for 20 minutes, then let cool.

While the pecans are candy-ing, prep the ingredients for the salad and make the vinaigrette by whisking the dressing ingredients together until emulsified.

Dress the salad greens, divide among 2 plates and top with the grapes, goat cheese and pecans.

Makes 2 salads.

15 Comments

  1. Muscadine grapes are used to make wine in the south.

  2. I love muscadine grapes – both the purple kind and the bronze (scuppernong) variety. They are so fun to eat!

  3. I will definitely be checking out our local market to see if they carry those. It does sound like a good pairing with goat cheese in a salad.

  4. I’ve only recently come across these guys, myself. My Mom grew up in Illinois, and she told me that she had these growing outside of her bedroom, as a kid. She was really excited when she (now living in Florida – kind of the definition of “hot and humid”) found a local winery that makes Muscadine wines. We tried some while visiting, and the wines are incredibly sweet. I can’t say I liked it much, but I’d love to find the raw grapes and try them. They look awesome.

  5. I was surprised to see you slice these grapes. As a child, I was taught to pinch one end and suck the fruit out of the skin, composting the skins. Sometimes the skin is too thick to just squeeze the pulp out, so you have to bite a little hole and suck it out. They make delicious jelly. My granny used to make all her jellies with the wild vine that grew by her butter bean patch.

    Jehan, are you talking about Lakeridge Winery? My husband and I used to live in Orlando and would stop to get their wines on our way back and forth to my parents’ house. We’re sweet desert wine lovers, so they were really tasty to us.

  6. hmm, seen those grapes but never tried them. actually, i just got caught up in those buy one get one figs!!!!

  7. Great looking salad!

    We here in the ATL have muscadine EVERYTHING! Jelly, wine, just all kinds of stuff. I think they are excellent, my wife, not so much.

  8. Why have I never seen these before?!? I think I’ve heard of Muscadine wine, though I can’t say I’m a fan of the sweet wines. I loved them fresh and would probably love them in jam or jelly. I’m also thinking of making a sauce for pork loin by reducing some with red wine…Thoughts?

  9. I’ve had grapes like that before, maybe they were different but HUGE dark delicious grapes. I’ve actually made a really similar salad for a little while now – spring mix, baby spinach, cucumbers, halved or sliced grapes (depending on the size), sunflower seeds, sliced almonds and feta if the bf hasn’t eaten all of it (which he frequently does) with a light red wine vinegarette.

    I can’t stand typical salads with tomatoes and carrots and hated most salads for a while, but once I started making salads like these (ie DELICIOUS salads), I can’t get enough. A friend of mine was telling me about a regional goat cheese maker today, and I’ve been thinking of what I could use *good* goat cheese on – I can’t believe I forgot about these!

  10. In GA, muscadines grow everywhere. I just finished picking a few lbs of muscadines and scupernogs (the light-colored sister). The wild muscadines here are normal grape size, but they can get huge if watered on a regular basis. The scupernogs are so sweet I can’t wait to make jam out of them!

  11. Just because Opria and Dr Ozz made the acai berry famous you can’t get them fresh but the muscadine grape grows hear and is high in antioxidants and easy to get freash, and they taste great.

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