One of the perks I enjoy as a food blogger and recipe developer is saying “Yes” to the best in seasonal produce when companies like Melissa’s Produce email me asking if I’d like to receive some fingerling potatoes or plumcots or, most recently, champagne grapes to play around with in the kitchen. By no means do I say “Yes” to every product pitch, but when it comes to sharing more ways of “eating the rainbow”, I’m always in. It’s fascinating to taste, learn about, and experiment with hybrids such as plumcots and apriums and I always know that Melisssa’s has the highest quality produce available. I’ve been buying their fruits and vegetables as well as shallots, pine nuts, wonton wrappers, and other packaged speciality items in the produce section for years. And, no, I wasn’t paid to say that
Champagne grapes are those tiny, seedless, sublimely sweet, deep purple grapes that are popular as a dessert fruit and gourmet garnish. I love their little pop and burst of flavor and think they are the ultimate grape accompaniment for a cheese board. Cheese boards are at the top of the list of culinary delights that we sorely miss savoring as a result of Don’s sodium restriction – right up there with sausage and bacon. We indulge in said dairy in small quantities and, fortunately, I recently discovered Karoun Labne, a Mediterranean kefir (yogurt) cheese that is very low in sodium, creamy, flavorful, and satisfies our cheesy desire. This yogurt cheese is a lower calorie alternative to cream cheese and served as a delicious substitute for feta cheese in the Mediterranean eggplant rolls I made for last month’s Greek Meze 5 Star Makeover; it would also do lasagna proud. And, I discovered it makes a mean white pizza, too!
Not only is this pizza a perfect union of sweet and savory, the yogurt cheese makes it lower calorie, lower fat, and low sodium, and with all the components of a gourmet cheese board, you won’t be missing a thing – just add wine! The crispy on the outside, soft on the inside pizza crust is Marcella Hazan’s basic pizza dough recipe (so you know it’s great!) and only takes a few minutes to prepare, just allow time for it to rise (about 3 hours) – if you’re short on time, use your favorite purchased pizza dough.
Champagne Grape Pizza
aka The Cheese Board: champagne grapes burst with sweetness and provide the perfect union of sweet and savory flavors with all the components of a gourmet cheese board, except lower in calories, fat, and sodium.
1 tablespoon black truffle oil
1 cup Karoun Labne yogurt cheese
1 cup champagne grapes
1/4 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles
1 ounce, or 1/4 cup, Melissa’s pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon lemon zest
cornmeal for rolling out dough
Garnish with fresh thyme sprig (optional)
Yield: 1 – 12″ pizza
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Preheat pizza stone or baking sheet in oven.
1. Sprinkle pastry sheet or large cutting board with cornmeal. Roll out the dough to roughly a 12″ circle. Brush with truffle oil.
2. Spread yogurt cheese onto pizza shell using a knife or frosting spatula. Sprinkle with champagne grapes, followed by the gorgonzola crumbles, pine nuts, thyme and lemon zest. Carefully transfer to pizza stone or baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until pizza crust is lightly browned.
Remove from oven. Let the pizza set for 5 minutes before cutting.
Don’t be surprised by the frothy bubbles emitted from the baked champagne grapes. So festive – maybe that’s how they got their name!
Actually, these tiny, decorative grapes are often draped over champagne or wine glasses – hence the name. They are a grape variety called Zante Currant or Black Corinth, (named for the Greek city where they were grown more than 2,000 years ago) and are used to make dried currants. Champagne grapes are available through Melissa’s Produce through Labor Day.