Even Tuscans enjoy grapes for more than wine, as I discovered my first time in Florence.
It was late October. The constantly gray, damp weather was bone-chilling when not actually foot-soaking wet and, in fact, just ten days before the great flood of 1966.
The weather required frequent café stops to warm up over a morale-boosting espresso, along with treats from the local pastry shops, or pasticceria.
The bakeries featured custard and pear tarts, almond-studded biscotti and Fiorentini, the lacy dried-fruit-and-nut cookies coated on one side with chocolate. They also offered a rustic-looking tart topped with what I assumed were blueberries, their glossy, purple juice oozing over the thin crust. I decided to try what I expected to be a version of something I already knew from home.
The first bite revealed this was something else - it wasn't sweet. Then I crunched into the seeds of the deep purple fruit - grape seeds. In truth, I didn't really get to like this local specialty, Schaicatta coll'Uva, made only during and shortly after the harvest of Tuscany's thick-skinned wine grapes. And I never got rid of the stains it left on my favorite trenchcoat.
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But grapes are loaded with important, health-protective phytochemicals, like resveratrol and anthocyanins, both potent antioxidants, and I keep an eye out for varied ways of including them in meals. With the offbeat Tuscan tart in mind, I developed a pizza of bread dough topped with seedless red table grapes.
For convenience, I use the packaged baked pizza crusts or focaccia sold in supermarkets and top them with a sweet-and-savory mixture of grapes, red onion, Parmesan cheese and herbs.
Accompanied by a green salad, it's a perfect one-dish meal, and travels well as a contribution to tailgate picnics and pot lucks.
Grape and Red Onion Pizza
- 10-oz. pre-baked focaccia or Italian pizza bread shell
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, sliced in 1/4-inch crescents
- 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
- 1 tsp. finely-minced fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp. dried
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pizza shell or focaccia on a perforated pizza baking pan and set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion 3 minutes, or just until it begins to soften. Add grapes and thyme, stirring until coated with oil. Arrange mixture on pizza shell, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle cheese over topping.
- Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until shell is hot and crisp, and onions are wilted but not limp. (If you do not have a pierced pan, place pizza directly on the oven rack and check on it after 5 minutes of baking. If necessary, adjust heat to prevent burning.)
- Cut pizza into 6 portions. Serve with spinach or other green salad, or a hearty soup.
Nutritional Info Per Serving:
4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
29 g. carbohydrate,
5 g. protein,
1 g. dietary fiber,
349 mg. sodium
Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 Bread/Starch, 1 Vegetable, 1 Fat