Although the daytime weather is warm enough for women to wear sundresses, there is a little hint of autumn in the early morning air. You notice that fall is coming, too, in the markets. Summer berries have disappeared. A few peaches and nectarines linger, but they seem a bit sad. Luscious grapes lie in great mounds: big pink ones; sweet black ones; smaller, but no less sweet, white ones.
They can be so sweet that it’s like eating candy. I remember once sitting at a seaside campsite in the south of Italy. My companion had taken the car to do some errands that included buying food. I was puttering around, enjoying the sun.
The only thing I had to eat was a bag of grapes. I ate a couple and turned over in the sand to bake my back. Ohhh. Those grapes were good. I ate a couple more, and turned again. I continued in this mode for a little while, then I just sat up and ate and ate and ate. By the time my companion returned, the grapes were gone.
Grapes make a good ingredient for cooked dishes, too. I’ve tried various crostade (Italian pies) made with grapes, sometimes paired with other fruit, and lots of cakes as well. The list goes on: sorbetto, strudel, and a bread called schiacciata.
But grapes also go well with meat. Poultry, either duck or chicken, and grapes make a nice combination, and I’ve even seen a recipe for goose liver and grapes. Here is a quick and easy dish that introduces autumn changes to our diet. You might want to try it.
Sausage and Grapes
1 pound Italian sausage
1 pound of white grapes (my original recipe calls for 32 grapes!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
1. Prick the sausages in several places with the tines of a fork.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the sausages and let them brown, turning frequently.
3. When the sausages are nicely browned, bathe them with the wine. (You understand that I wouldn’t measure the wine, nor would most Italian cooks. Just splash a good spray from the bottle.)
4. Let the sausages cook for about ten minutes, turning from time to time.
5. Meanwhile, wash the grapes and separate them from the stem.
6. Add the grapes to the sausages and cook for another fifteen minutes.
7. Add salt to taste, if needed.