Brighten summertime dishes with fresh grapes

(BPT) Warmer weather is finally here, and that means more daylight for activities of all types and ideally more time for relaxation. Whether family members choose to spend their time playing outside, tackling home projects or getting creative with crafts, it’s easy to work up an appetite for tasty summertime food. Crisp, juicy grapes serve as an easy snack — whether fresh or frozen — and a special ingredient in simple but creative new dishes.

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers with Grape Sauce uses fragrant lemongrass, a tropical herb with a lemony flavor and aroma, three ways: in the chicken marinade, in the grape sauce and as the skewers for the chicken. Grapes add a sweet and juicy crunch to the sweet-and-sour topping.

Guacamole with Grapes delivers a refreshing new dimension with fresh grapes providing a delightful color and texture contrast to the avocado base and imparting sweet notes that complement the zesty seasonings. Enjoy as a snack or serve as a festive appetizer.

Make sure that grapes from California are on the grocery list as a fresh staple from May through January; simply look for “California” or “USA” on the label. Stored unwashed, they can keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. A quick rinse before using and then — enjoy!

Lemongrass Grilled Chicken Skewers with Grape Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes plus marinating time

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Marinade/Sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced

2 tablespoons finely minced lemongrass bulb

Pinch red pepper flakes

4 stalks lemongrass

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup quartered California grapes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

Make the marinade and sauce: Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and garlic in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and add the lemongrass and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 seconds and transfer to a bowl set in a bowl of ice water. Chill until room temperature, stirring frequently.

Peel the dark green leaves off each lemongrass stalk and cut each crosswise into 6-inch long pieces for 8 skewers. With the tip of a paring knife, poke a small hole in each piece.

Using the lemongrass as a skewer, insert lemongrass into each piece of chicken, putting 2 to 3 pieces on each stalk; place in a 9 X 13-inch dish. Pour half the marinade over the chicken, turn to coat and refrigerate 2 hours. Cover and set aside remaining marinade for the grape sauce.

Heat grill to high and oil the grates. Drain the skewers and brush with the oil. Grill the chicken 2-4 minutes on each side.

Stir the grapes into the reserved marinade and serve with the chicken skewers, sprinkled with the cilantro.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 Calories; Protein 35 g; Carbohydrate 10 g; Fat 7 g (25% Calories from Fat); Saturated Fat 1.5 g (5% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 95 mg; Sodium 750 mg; Fiber 0 g.

Guacamole with Grapes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 medium avocados, peeled and pitted

1 large lime, juiced

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 small Fresno chile, seeded and minced

1 small clove garlic, grated or minced

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3/4 cup halved red or green California grapes

Directions

Mash the avocado flesh with a fork in a large bowl with the lime juice. Stir in onion, cilantro, chile, garlic and salt. Fold in grapes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 180 Calories; Protein 2 g; Carbohydrate 14 g; Fat 15 g (75% Calories from Fat); Saturated Fat 2 g (10% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 105 mg; Fiber 7 g.

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