I’m not sure why I associate grapes with winter, but I do.  They aren’t exactly a cold-weather crop, but then again, they aren’t a summer crop, either.  I suppose I’m too busy with corn and tomatoes and berries in the summer to notice the beautiful green and red orbs that seem to be around all year long.  Don’t take these babies for granted; they’re a versatile fruit packed with flavor and phytonutrients!

Eat What:

-Yeast occurs naturally on the skins of grapes and led to the production of alcoholic drinks

-Evidence of grapes being grown for wine dates back 6,000-8,000 years ago in Georgia (in the Near East, not the state) and the first winery was discovered in Armenia, dating back to 4,000 B.C.

-Approximately 71% of world grape production is used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit, and 2% as dried fruit. (Wikipedia)

-Wine grapes also tend to be very sweet: they are harvested at the time when their juice is approximately 24% sugar by weight. By comparison, commercially produced “100% grape juice”, made from table grapes is usually around 15% sugar by weight. (Wikipedia)

Eat When:

-Grapes are available year-round, but North American varieties are most abundant between July and December

-Select green grapes that have a pale yellow hue and red grapes that don’t show any green

-Store unwashed in the fridge for up to a week; remove 30 minutes before eating and bring to slightly colder than room temp (about 60 degrees) and wash thoroughly

Eat Right:

-In addition to their phytochemical benefits, grapes are also high in the mineral Manganese and 1 cup provides 33% of our recommended daily value

-The ‘French Paradox’ refers to the phenomenon that the French tend to eat higher amounts of animal fat than Americans, yet their rates of heart disease remain relatively low, which is attributed to the protective benefits of consuming moderate amounts of red wine

-Grape phytochemicals such as resveratrol (a polyphenol antioxidant), have been positively linked to inhibiting any cancerheart disease, degenerative nervedisease, viral infections and mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.[23][24]  (Wikipedia)

Eat More:

-Try them in this take on Waldorf salad or in this salsa with cucumber

-Roasting fresh grapes might seem strange, but it’s a fantastic way to bring out even more flavor.  Try this tart or with sausages as a main dish

Sauteed Sausage and Grapes with Broccoli Rabe

I remember ripping this out of a magazine sometime last year and thinking it would be a really neat dish to try.  Right now is just the time to rely on produce like grapes and broccoli, so give it a try this week!  Be sure to get spicy sausage to bring that heat, although I remember thinking it was a bit hot for my mild tongue…


1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 (4-ounce) links hot or sweet pork Italian sausage, casings removed

3 cups green grapes, sliced in half lengthwise

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup white wine or water

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)


  1. 1. Cook broccoli rabe in boiling water 1 1/2 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Place in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. 2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage; cook for 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add grapes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until grapes begin to soften. Add sausage mixture to broccoli rabe.
  3. 3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes or until soft. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, sausage mixture, and vinegar. Toss to combine; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese; serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: 4 servings

Cal: 310, Fat: 16.7g, Sat. fat: 4.9g, Protein: 13.3g, Carb: 29.9g, Fiber: 1.4g, Chol: 21.3mg, Iron: 2.1mg, Sodium: 621mg, Calcium: 164mg


Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy.  Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive!  You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.