On the Sunday after our arrival in Valladolid, Rick and I ventured out to the pueblo where he grew up in order to visit a few of his relatives. The fields surrounding the pueblo were full of grape vines heavy with sweet white and purple grapes. It’s time for this year’s grape harvest.
We stopped by a couple fields and sampled the grapes. Some of the clusters were as long as my arm! Rick’s cousin, José, explained that while most of the grapes are harvested mechanically, some of the vines can’t be reached by machinery and those are picked by hand. The grapes were at their peak of sweetness. We sampled both white and dark purple grapes. The dark grapes are used to make Tinto de Toro and the white ones are turned into a sweet dessert wine.
We came home with a bag full of white grapes courtesy of Rick’s cousins. Now, I like grapes, but there’s only so many I can eat in one sitting. I turned to Pinterest (where else?) for inspiration in using a large amount of grapes. I found recipes for grape salad, frozen grapes, crostini with grapes and goat cheese and chicken with grapes (I’d try it!). Finally we decided on a recipe for Concord Grape Pie on Martha Stewart’s website that was a big help in making our Rustic Grape Tart.
Since the skins of the white grapes were tender and not very bitter, I decided to use them in the pie. First you’ll want to wash the grapes and remove them from the stems. It’s easiest to do this under running water with a strainer underneath to catch the grapes. Gently roll the cluster of grapes between your hands and the grapes will fall into the strainer. Discard the stems and any grapes that don’t look healthy.
The most time consuming part was removing all the seeds from the grapes. It was just a matter of squeezing them out of the grapes, but there were a lot of grapes! This is another opportunity to remove any grapes that might be over ripe or otherwise inedible. I cooked the grapes with some sugar and kept fishing more seeds out as they cooked down. A couple made their way into the tart. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor for the astringent seeds tucked away inside the sweet flesh of the grape.)
For the crust I used the same tart dough from an onion tart I made in the winter. It’s easy to handle and keeps for a day or more in the fridge. I formed the tart gallette style because I don’t have a tart/pie pan in Spain and besides I like the way it looks. I was worried we wouldn’t like the tart and so I split the recipe in half. After we ate the first tart, I made the second one to share with another of Rick’s cousins who dropped by for some coffee. It was a big hit! They only thing I’d do differently is use seedless grapes less sugar as the tart was very sweet to me.
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup butter (one stick), at room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 6 - 8 cups grapes, washed, stemmed and de-seeded
- ½ - 1 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the grapes
- pinch of salt
- 1½ - 2 tablespoon tapioca or cornstarch
- The butter and cream cheese should be very soft, but not melted. I leave mine out on the counter, but if you're careful, you can use a microwave on a low setting.
- Mix the ingredients for the tart dough in a large mixing bowl until a ball forms.
- Refrigerate for an hour or longer.
- Heat the deseeded grapes in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Remove any seeds as you come across them.
- Stir in the sugar and a generous pinch of salt
- Cook for 15 - 20 minutes until the liquid begins to thicken.
- Make a slurry with the tapioca and some water and add it to the grapes.
- The liquid will become cloudy, but will clear up as it cooks.
- Continue to cook until the filling becomes quite thick.
- Remove from heat and let cool. At this point, you could also store the grapes in the fridge for later.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Roll out the dough into a large circle (or divide into smaller portions) and transfer to a baking sheet or pie pan.
- Mound the cooked grapes in the center and pull the sides over the grapes.
- Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the grapes are heated through and the crust is ready.