Cooking with Grapes - Best Recipes and Food Pairing Ideas for Using Fresh Grapes

Fresh Grapes are often neglected as a cooking ingredient, though widely used in their dried form as sultanas, raisins and currants.

Grapes are versatile, healthy, colorful and have a sweet and sour taste (skins) that can enhance many dishes.

This article explores some of the many ways to use fresh grapes in cooking.

The health benefits and nutrition facts for grapes are also summarized (see the chart for details).

Try fresh grapes! Two fresh grape recipes are provided to give you some ideas.

Heath Benefits and Nutritional Facts for Fresh Grapes

► Grapes are relatively low in calories with 100 g fresh grapes having 69 calories, slightly more than most comparable fruits and berries (see the table). Dried sultanas have 290 calories, raisins 300 calories, currants 283, apple 52, blueberries 57, mango 65. However, grapes have a better suite of benefits overall compared with other fruits. You can really cut down the calories by using fresh grapes instead of dried ones.

► Grapes are rich in resveratrol and Catechins which are powerful anti-oxidants.

► Grapes are rich source of a variety of minerals such as iron, copper and manganese.

► Grapes are a rich source of a range of Vitamins such as vitamin-C, B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, thiamin, riboflavin, and also vitamin A, vitamin K and carotenes.

► Grapes have moderate levels of fiber and protein, no cholesterol and virtually no fat.

Tips for Using Fresh Grapes in Cooking

The key to using more grapes is to find other ingredients that they pair with. Also look at ways you can use fresh grapes instead of dry ones such as sultanas and raisins. This does not work with baked goods but does work for curries, pasta sauces and even pizzas. Below are some ideal pairings for fresh grapes.

Grapes and Almond

Grapes combine well with almonds and provide a great contrast in texture. Add grapes and toasted almonds to salads and pasta sauces.

Grapes and Cheese

Wines go well with cheese and so do grapes. The saltiness of cheese contrasts with the sweetness of fresh grapes. Whole grapes floods your mouth with sweet, refreshing juice and slightly acidic taste. Add some fresh grapes to a cheese board or whenever you serve cheese, such as in salads and side dishes. The combination of crackers, cheese and fresh grapes provides a wonderful array of textures.

Grapes and Melon Balls

Melon balls a are a wonderful addition to salads and various desserts. Grapes pair very well with melon balls in fruit salad as well.

Grapes and Pork

Grapes pair well with pork, either in sauces or as whole grapes. Grapes also go very well with pork sausages and other grilled and barbecued pork dished.

Grapes and Fish

Grapes pair very well with white fish dishes, whether grilled of baked. Grapes provide a great contrast in texture and their flavors enhance the flavor of the fish. Grapes have a mild flavor that does not overwhelm the delicate flavor of fish.

Best Fresh Grape Recipes and Use Ideas

Green Grapes and Cheese Side Dish

1 tablespoon sugar
1 dash cayenne pepper
3 oz (80g) cream cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 cup chopped pecans or toasted almonds
2-3 cups washed green grapes, whole or halved
1-2 dashes cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed

Combine the spices with the cheese and mayonnaise. Then blend in the nuts and grapes. Serve as a side dish or with a salad.

Simple Olive Cake with Red Grapes

2 large eggs
Salt to taste
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups red seedless grapes (whole)
1/4 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup high quality, extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crushed toasted almonds, or slivers or slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Brush an 9-inch (20cm x 20cm) square pan with a little olive oil, or use oil spray. Dust in the oil in the pan with a little extra flour. In a small bowl, combine the baking powder, flour, cornmeal, almonds and 1/2 teaspoon salt as dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer or food processor whisk the eggs, with zest and sugar added on high speed until fluffy. Lower the speed and add the oil as a drizzle. Add the flour mixture in three batches, with slurps of milk. Mix until smooth and just combined.

Transfer the mixture into the pan. Scatter half of the grapes over the top of the mixture and bake for about 15 minutes, then quickly sprinkle the remaining grapes on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cook on a wire rack, slice into squares and serve warm.

Fried Pork Medallions with Fresh Grapes and Parsnips Slices

1 cup seedless red grapes
2 teaspoons grape seed oil, or rice bran oil
Freshly ground pepper and coarse salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
3 small to medium parsnips, peeled and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick (7 mm)
6 oz (160 g) pork tenderloin, sliced into medallions about into 3/4 inch thick (2 cm)

Using a large frying pan or a wok, heat the oil over medium-high until hot. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Stir fry the pork medallions and parsnip slices, separately until just cooked, and nicely browned on the outside. Combine the pork and parsnips together in the pan and add the rosemary and grapes. Lower the heat and stir occasionally while waiting for the grapes to shrink and pop, releasing the juice into the mixture. Check that the pork is cooked in the center (generally takes 3-5 minutes). Serve warm with a salad as a snack or a light lunch.

Nutrition Facts for Grapes Compared with Similar Fruits

Nutrients in 100g ServingGrapesBlackberriesBlueberriesCherriesRaspberries
Calories (kcal) 69 60 57 63 83
Protein (g) 0.98 1.93 1.00 0.65 2.68
Total Fat (g) 0.22 0.68 0.43 0.19 0.95
Total Carbohydrates (g) 24.63 13.35 19.58 7.86 18.54
Dietary Fiber (g) 1.29 7.33 3.28 1.04 10.19
Sugar (g) 21.06 6.78 13.46 5.48 9.41
Vitamins ***** ***** ***** ***** 0.00
Vitamin C (mg) 14.63 29.13 13.15 6.45 40.45
Thiamin (mg) 0.10 0.01 0.05 0.02 0.02
Riboflavin (mg) 0.10 0.04 0.05 0.03 0.06
Niacin (mg) 0.26 0.90 0.57 0.26 1.25
Pantothenic Acid (mg) 0.07 0.39 0.16 0.09 0.54
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.11 0.04 0.07 0.03 0.06
Folate (mcg) 1.85 34.72 7.31 4.99 48.23
Vitamin B12 (mcg) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Vitamin A (IU) 91.16 297.22 72.97 827.74 412.81
Vitamin E (mg) 0.26 1.63 0.77 0.05 2.26
Vitamin K (mcg) 19.81 27.58 26.11 1.37 38.31
Minerals ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Calcium (mg) 12.95 40.51 7.31 10.41 56.27
Iron (mg) 0.48 0.88 0.38 0.21 1.22
Magnesium (mg) 9.25 27.00 7.31 5.83 37.50
Phosphorus (mg) 27.77 30.86 16.43 9.57 42.86
Potassium (mg) 259.16 225.69 104.09 111.55 313.46
Sodium (mg) 1.85 1.93 1.82 2.08 2.68
Zinc (mg) 0.10 0.74 0.22 0.06 1.02
Copper (mg) 0.16 0.24 0.07 0.06 0.33
Manganese (mg) 0.10 0.90 0.46 0.07 1.25
Selenium (mcg) 0.19 0.58 0.19 0.00 0.81
Fatty Acids ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Saturated Fat (g) 0.07 0.01 0.04 0.05 0.02
Monounsat. Fat (g) 0.01 0.06 0.07 0.05 0.08
Polyunsat. Fat (g) 0.07 0.39 0.20 0.06 0.54

Fresh grapes are a delight and can be added to salad and used in many cooked dishes
Fresh grapes are a delight and can be added to salad and used in many cooked dishes. Source:
Fresh grapes can be used as highlights in a huge range of desserts and sweets
Fresh grapes can be used as highlights in a huge range of desserts and sweets. Source:
Grapes in art - surely not that bad?
Grapes in art - surely not that bad? Source:
Fresh grapes are artistic like flowers and fresh fruit. Use fresh grapes in salads, desserts to add color, highlights and unique texture contrasts
Fresh grapes are artistic like flowers and fresh fruit. Use fresh grapes in salads, desserts to add color, highlights and unique texture contrasts. Source: