Monday, October 4

Falling For Grapes: Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Autumn Salad

Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Fall Salad

At the end of August, I posted on an Asian Chicken and Soba Noodle Salad that I called a "transitional salad" -- cool enough to eat on a steamy summer night yet satisfying enough to quell your hunger after a long day at work.

Four days into October, it's now time for full-fledged autumn salads. You know, the kind with thick slabs of roasted squash, wedges of spicy persimmons, and robust dressings made with maple syrup and heady herbs such as rosemary and sage.

While most fall salads include apples, pears, and fresh figs, not many include of one autumn's most popular fruits: grapes. Perhaps that's because like bananas, grapes are available in our supermarkets year-round and don't seem to have a specific season. Well, they do. Most grapes in the US are grown in California and are harvested between August and December. They're also available at San Diego farmers' markets right now.

locally grown organic grapes
Locally grown grapes from the Little Italy Mercato. 

I wish I could have you taste some of our local grapes. They're like nothing you've ever tasted from the supermarket. That's because no matter the variety -- Champagne, Thompson, Concord, Flame -- the grapes aren't picked until fully vine-ripened, which makes them dizzyingly plump, juicy, and flavorful. When you bite into some varieties, they release bursts of juice so intense, you'd think you're drinking wine.

Even if you can't get locally grown grapes, buy yourself the best ones you can find, and toss them into this Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Autumn Salad. Sweet or tart grapes will get along deliciously with crisp pan-seared chicken, crunchy red bell peppers, and juicy heirloom tomatoes.

So next time you're at the market, reacquaint yourself with grapes. This long-time friend just might surprise you.

Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Autumn Salad
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
8-10 cups mesclun, preferably spicy
1 yellow tomato, cut into wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup grapes of your choice

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped, lightly toasted pecans, pine nuts, or walnuts

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken; cook for 8-10 minutes, turning several times, until golden and cooked through.

2. Place mesclun, tomato, pepper, and grapes in a large bowl.

3. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Add chicken to salad and toss. Pour vinaigrette over salad, and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with nuts. Divide evenly among four plates.

You might also enjoy these fall/autumn salad recipes:
Roasted Pear Salad recipe from Kitchen Parade
Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad recipe from Dani Spies
Watercress, Seckel Pear, and Brie Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Dandelion, Persimmon, and Medjool Date Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Butternut Squash Salad with Curry-Apple Dressing recipe from This Mama Cooks!
Roasted Sweet Potato, Apple, and Spinach Salad recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod


Jessica @ How Sweet said...

This sounds like an incredible autumn salad. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a German wine growing area. Yes, fresh grapes are the very best. I always like them in a nice salad, especially when they are combined with nuts. Your recipe sounds delicious.

roxan said...

Oh, this looks so delicious. You're motivating me to make an autumn salad too!

I would have loved to try those grapes, you're doing a great job of selling them. My husband really loves grapes so I'm always trying to get good ones for him.

Merut said...

What is mesclun? I don't think there are a lot of locally grown grapes where I am from, but they look good. I need to try adding grapes to my salads. Thanks for sharing. Love your pictures!

Anonymous said...

this salad is so fall appropriate that I will make it this evening. Mimi from R.I.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I wish I could taste those grapes too. Red flame is one of our favorites. These must really be special.

Joanne said...

I never realized that grapes were more of a fall/winter fruit! Thanks so much for sharing this little pearl of wisdom. I will definitely be seeking them out next time I go to the farmer's market! This salad looks delicious. I might have to throw a slab of winter squash on it...but that's due to my own ridiculous compulsions. :P

Zita said...

Love the idea of using grapes, brings a flavor of fruit salad to the veggies salad.

Abby said...

I got some grapes in a CSA box last month. They were the best ones I've ever eaten. They stayed fresh longer, and they were just perfect. Of course we have a good grape-growing region here in N.C. ourselves! Lovely salad.

Cara said...

I wish that I could taste some of your local grapes too! Makes me sad that I pretty much only know "red" and "green".

Susan from Food Blogga said...

jessica-Thanks so much!

mkithr-A German wine growing area? Oh, lucky girl!

roxan-That's sweet that you're looking out for your man. :)

merut-Mesclun is a mix of assorted salad leaves.

mimi-Yay! I'm so happy to hear it. Enjoy!

zita-Yes, indeed it does.

mck-I love Red Flames too. Have you had Red Flame raisins? They're spectacular!

joanne-The roasted squash would fit in deliciously!

abby-Yes, you do get good grapes. I remember fondly.

Joy @ The Supper Diaries said...

This salad makes my mouth water! What is it about fruit in salad that gets to me every time?

Eve Fox said...


bellini valli said...

This time of the year we find a sweet and delicious BC grape called Coronation. They would be perfect for this recipe Susan.

Rose&Thorn said...

We have Spring in the South now, and this is a perfect addition to my week's menu. Thank you:)

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Yum, you make grapes sound so good! And persimmons - I can't wait for my first persimmon!

Kasey said...

I'm always on the lookout for a good salad as I seem to be salad-challenged (I tend to make the same exact one for lunch every day). Seems like grapes and fall are a perfect excuse to try something new.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

You're right! Grapes are like bananas...always there, every season, nothing special. Wish I could taste the ones in your photo!

J said...

I love grapes and can imagine how good the fresh ones from the farmers would be like. Salad is good!

Follow Food Chain said...

I once worked in a restaurant where you had to peel the grapes for their salad - believe me when I say this is a task I never want to repeat.

Anonymous said...

It was so nice meeting you in San Fran and I can't wait to start reading your blog regularly. All the best to you, Anupy Singla

The Teacher Cooks said...

I love grapes in a salad. Yours looks divine. Hope that you had a great time in SF.