Every cook should have an upscale dish they can pull out for special occasions. This easy goat cheese pasta with roasted grapes fits that bill perfectly!
Every cook should have an easy, upscale dish that they can pull out for special occasions.
Something that won’t break the bank yet has ingredients to impress; won’t take up all your time in the kitchen, but presents so well everyone assumes it did.
This incredibly easy dish uses simple chicken breasts with a quick balsamic pan sauce as its anchor. A lightning fast goat cheese sauce coats Cicatelli pasta, then gets topped with the star ingredient – roasted grapes from California.
Often, during fall, we forget that grapes are still ripe and ready for mixing into our favorite fall recipes. But, did you know Grapes from California are in season May through January? They are, of course, wonderful for snacking too! Who doesn’t love a sweet grape fruit salad or a chicken salad sandwich with crisp and crunchy grapes? They’re even delicious kept in the freezer for a cool summer afternoon snack. But they’re rarely seen in hot, savory dishes like this Goat Cheese Pasta with Balsamic Chicken and Spicy Roasted Grapes. This dish would work on its own, but the roasted grapes really take it up a notch, making it an elegant, healthful and easy dish for entertaining.
It’s a rare day when I don’t have some grapes in my kitchen. You probably remember that I’m a fan of juicing and I looove adding healthy, fresh grape juice to keep my green juices on the sweet side. Fresh grapes are the source of the heart-healthy polyphenols found in red wine, including the widely researched resveratrol (which is found in grapes of all colors, not just the red ones). Just one serving of grapes (3/4 cup) contains just 90 calories, no fat, no cholesterol and virtually no sodium and is also an excellent source of Vitamin K (which may also help maintain bone health) – all reasons why I love adding it to my healthy morning juice regimen (not to mention my pasta dishes)!
Fresh grape juice is also fantastic in cocktails!
Here are some practical tips on buying, storing and enjoying your grapes:
Selection and Storage Suggestions
- Grapes are fully ripe when they arrive at the supermarket.
- Look for plump grapes with pliable green stems.
- Keep grapes unwashed and refrigerated until ready to use, then rinse with cold water and serve or add to recipes.
- Grapes are a healthy, portable snack ideal for eating anytime, anywhere. Snacking is the number-one use for fresh grapes.
- Fresh California grapes add color, crunch and taste to meals. Try them in salads, side dishes, entrees and desserts.
- Frozen grapes are a staple in many households. They are a good alternative when you are craving sweets or ice cream, and they make the perfect snack.
- Fresh grapes are often covered with a natural bloom, which is a delicate white substance common to many soft fruits. The bloom protects the grape from moisture loss and decay. Bloom is sometimes mistakenly thought of as dust.
If you’ve never roasted grapes before, you’re in for a real treat! It takes just minutes and their flavor becomes even sweeter. Just toss them in a little olive oil, season lightly with salt then, for a little extra oomph, sprinkle on a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes. It’s a perfect spicy-sweet combination! You can even leave them on the vine. I especially like to do that when serving grapes on a cheese tray; I often put out fresh, uncooked grapes then offer another bunch that’ve been roasted.
- 2 pounds fresh red California grapes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-4 large pinches crushed red pepper flakes (a pinch is three fingers & a thumb!)
- 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 pound Cicatelli pasta (Penne would be a good substitute)
- 1 15 ounce log goat cheese, softened
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400F and a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add oil and, when hot, add chicken. Cook for 4 minutes or so until nicely browned on one side. Flip chicken, cook another few minutes then cover to finish cooking through (reduce heat if necessary). Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
- Add shallots to pan with a little extra oil if necessary. Scrape up browned bits on bottom of pan and cook shallots for a few minutes or until starting to soften. Add balsamic vinegar, turn up heat to medium-high and return chicken to pan. Cook until sauce is starting to thicken and chicken is heated through, about five minutes (sauce will continue to thicken as it cools).
- Place grapes on a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil just to coat, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt then crushed red pepper flakes. Toss with your hands then roast for 5-8 minutes or until grapes are just starting to split. Remove from oven and set aside (grapes can be served at room temp).
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Place softened goat cheese in a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup hot pasta water. Combine throughly until a sauce forms, adding additional pasta water until you reach desired consistency. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Divide hot pasta among dinner plates. Top with goat cheese sauce. Add a few slices of chicken and top with extra balsamic sauce. Add roasted grapes, garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately.
*Disclosure: I was compensated for my time to develop this recipe and to participate in the Twitter party. All opinions are my own.