Since my maternity leave ended, I’ve been working from home, so I can also be at home with the baby. Now, when we came up with this arrangement, I knew I’d be more than a little sad to not be in the office anymore, chatting with people, taking our little tea-time breaks everyday, deciding what we should do for lunch, etc. But, I also told myself, on the plus side, that I could make myself delightful, simple little lunches a la Canal House. In my fantasy, I’d work until 11:30, then whip up a light lunch of smoked salmon tea sandwiches and sorrel soup, or perhaps I’d flit down to the farmers market on Wednesdays and come up with a salad of local, organic produce. Then, of course, I’d be back to work around noon and still have time to bake up a batch of ginger cranberry scones for an afternoon break. Oh, and in case you were wondering, my fantasy also included a child who sleeps for 22 hours a day, and spends the other 2 hours gurgling, smiling, cooing, and being generally delightful.
I think we can all see where this is headed. Imagine my shock and dismay when I realized that I actually have one of those crazy babies that actually needs *gasp*… diaper changes. And feedings. And outfit changes, which result in huge loads of laundry. Pretty quickly, my picturesque lunches became somewhat less charming. Like, in a “shove-cold-pizza-in-your-mouth-while-standing-over-the-sink” kind of way.
So the other day, when I unexpectedly found myself in need of a break at around noon, after an incredibly productive morning of work, and a baby sleeping peacefully in his bouncy chair (photo evidence? ok, but only because you insist… here), I decided to make something tasty for lunch. And this fit the bill. Quick, tasty, and easy enough that my brain, addled by sleep deprivation and a morning spent trying to makes sense of numerous spreadsheets, could still handle.
Besides, it seemed like just the kind of little lunch I would make myself back in fantasy land.
And let me tell you, it far surpassed cold pizza. For as simple as it was, it was unbelievably tasty. The grapes get all syrupy and sweet, with an herbal note from the thyme. Spooned over cold, salty, rich ricotta, they are even more glorious. Slices of a good, chewy, crusty bread bring it all together with crunchy edges and little bit of moist middle. I could see myself eating this for any meal of the day, although I think that it would most likely be best-suited as an appetizer.
Actually, as I was eating, I was thinking about how perfect it would be to eat with cocktails on the patio in the summer, kind of like we did with that onion souffle last summer. You could probably toss the grapes into a foil packet on the grill instead of roasting them in the oven, then toast up the sliced bread on the grill, and I imagine that it would be even better. Then, I started going a little bit off the deep end and thought about how good it would be if I made some homemade ricotta, which I’ve heard isn’t actually so complicated… but at that point, my self-appointed lunch break was over and I decided I better get back to work before nap time was over, too. But a girl can dream big dreams of homemade ricotta, can’t she?
Thyme-Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini
Several bunches of red, purple, or black seedless grapes
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 loaf rustic italian or french bread
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling over bread
Approx. 1/2 cup ricotta
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Remove grapes from stems and scatter on a sheet pan or in a roasting pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over them, then roll them around in the pan to coat them in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and throw the sprigs of thyme on top, too. Roast grapes in the oven for approximately 8 minutes. (They may need a little more time if you are using especially large grapes.) Remove from oven when some of the grapes have burst, but not all of them. Remove thyme sprigs.
While the grapes are roasting, cut bread into 3/4-inch slices. For this amount of ingredients, 8-10 slices should do the trick. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top and then put slices facedown on a grill pan, over medium heat. Once you get some nice grill marks on one side, flip them over. When they’ve reached your desired crispness, take out of the pan and let them cool only slightly.
Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of ricotta onto each slice of grilled bread. Spoon the warm grapes over the ricotta, making sure to get some of the syrupy juice that’s oozed out of them. Serve.