Spice Up Your Life: Wow guests with an appetizer that’s a ‘tini’ bit fancy

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It may seem like a strange combination, but a creamy blue cheese spread, combined with warm, roasted grapes on crunchy crostini is a fantastic, fancy snack or appetizer.

By Lindsey Young, Harvey County Now

Joey and I aren’t normally Valentine’s Day people. Generally, romance on Feb. 14 is us hanging out at home and playing a board game or watching TV.
But when some good friends of ours asked us to go on a double date with them this year, we were ready to celebrate.
We ended up at the Coneburg Grill and Pub in Peabody for their Valentine’s dinner, which consisted of several courses and some specialty cocktails, too.
We had a fabulous time, and as has always been my experience at the Coneburg, we had a fantastic meal, even though it was far, far more upscale than the décor of the restaurant would’ve otherwise dictated.
Since we went, I haven’t been able to get the appetizer we were served out of my head. It was one of those dishes that looked super weird at first, but the flavor combinations were perfect, and I finally decided I just had to try it.
So I started Googling and found a recipe that seemed to fit the bill from the blog “Babaganosh.” You can find the original post at https://www.babaganosh.org/blue-cheese-spread-roasted-grapes/. I added to the instructions for making your own crostini and added a bit more thyme in my version.

Roasted Grapes and Blue Cheese Spread
Crostini Ingredients
1 baguette
olive oil, for brushing
fresh cracked pepper and salt, to taste

Grapes Ingredients
4 cups seedless red grapes, rinsed and drained
4 sprigs fresh thyme
cooking spray

Spread Ingredients
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup sour cream
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pinch nutmeg

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the baguette into about one-quarter inch slices. Brush each slice with a light coating of olive oil and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet (line it with parchment or foil for easy cleanup). Sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper, and bake for about 10 minutes, checking after 5, until the slices are at your desired crispiness.
For the grapes, spread the grapes out in a baking dish (an eight-by-eight-inch or a nine-by-13 would each work fine). Spray the grapes with cooking spray, and place the sprigs of thyme around the pan.
Roast the grapes at 375 for 15 to 25 minutes or until they are starting to burst. Stir them at around the 10-minute mark.
(You can roast your grapes and brown your crostini at the same time.)
Transfer the grapes to a serving dish, and serve warm.
For the spread, combine the blue cheese, sour cream, leaves of the thyme sprigs and nutmeg into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small serving dish and top with a few more thyme leaves for decoration.
To eat this dish, spread some of the blue cheese mixture on a crostini and then top with a few warm grapes.
Refrigerate any leftover spread or grapes, and store crostini in an airtight container.

So, yeah, I served roasted grapes, which sounds super weird, but it’s so, so good. Adding that fruitiness to blue cheese is a great combination, and who doesn’t like eating crispy crostini?
I wouldn’t say my version is better than the pros at the restaurant, but since I’ll probably have to wait another 11 months to have theirs again, this is a darn good substitute.
I never would have guessed you could learn about fine dining in a humble town like Peabody, but I am (and my tastebuds are) so glad I did.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly recipe column by Lindsey Young, who describes herself as an enthusiastic amateur cook and can be reached through her website at spiceupkitchen.net.