By Crystal Grobe

In a recent job interview I was asked a couple of thought-provoking questions about my cooking style. While I was quite prepared for those questions and answered them adequately, I couldn’t help but ponder my answers throughout the following weeks in an effort to learn more about myself.

Sometimes I make unhealthy stuff like baked macaroni and cheese, but I add tomatoes to it for a little bit of brightness. Other times I make traditional food like deviled eggs and add sautéed onions, apples, and herbs to switch up the filling. I also make a lot of salads because ingredients like grilled peaches, roasted corn, and massaged kale are a great way to add variety to a normally boring dish. I may not have one single approach to cooking, but I do believe that variety is the spice of life and that comes through in my cooking as well as my daily activities.

Take the average sweet potato; it is not so exciting on its own and usually has limited ways of preparation: fried, baked, mashed, or covered in marshmallows and pecans. Now think about grapes; there’s only one way I eat grapes – straight from the fridge and raw. Imagine if these two standard ingredients met goat cheese and honey. I think it would look something like this:

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

Thanks to my habit of “reading the internet” (as my husband commonly calls my online research), I came across the idea of roasting grapes and fell in love with the amazing flavor profile. As you can imagine, they taste like raisins and I encourage anyone with kids to roast grapes immediately for snacktime. Yum!

To take it a step further, here’s a recipe from a lovely blog, How Sweet It Is, pairing roasted grapes with sweet potatoes, goat cheese, and honey. These would be so fun to make for a holiday dinner.

Roasted Grape + Goat Cheese + Honey Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
(from How Sweet It Is blog)
makes 4 potatoes

4 sweet potatoes
2 cups red, seedless grapes
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil (or another high heat oil)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons honey + additional for drizzling
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Poke holes in sweet potato with a fork, then wrap each tightly in aluminum foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until potatoes and tender to the touch. Unwrap foil and cut a slit down the middle of each sweet potato. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Lay grapes on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with grapeseed oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until grapes begin to burst. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once sweet potatoes are somewhat cool, gently remove the flesh with a spoon, trying to keep the potato intact. Add the sweet potato to a large bowl, then mash with 3 ounces of goat cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper and honey. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired, then scoop flash back into the potato skins. At this point you can re-warm the potatoes (if you let them cool completely) in the oven, then top with remaining goat cheese. Add grapes on top and serve with additional drizzled honey.

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