It's a rare recipe that becomes an instant classic - a dish that's so tasty people ask for the recipe immediately and one that you can picture yourself serving at family functions for years to come.
My mother-in-law, Donna Wyko, recently uncovered such a recipe.
While we were celebrating my husband's birthday in February, she presented us with dishes of grape salad for dessert.
Sweet grape salad, made up of grapes and nuts mixed together with a creamy, cheesecake-like coating, is a great addition to the dessert table at your next family meal.
"It tastes like cheesecake," she said, which was all the encouragement I needed to dig in. Anything "cheesecake" is good enough for me. I took one bite and promptly asked for the recipe.
It reminded me of the Waldorf salad that has been a staple of Sweet family dinners for many years, though that combination of fruit, nuts and a creamy coating was more at home on the dinner table than as a dessert offering. This salad is definitely a dessert treat.
I had the opportunity to try out the grape salad recipe for myself the following week when my sister, Ellen Sweet, and I hosted a baby shower for our youngest sister, Chrissy. (The shower came just in the nick of time - my nephew, Liam, made an early appearance two days before the shower.)
Sweet grape salad
2 lbs. red seedless grapes
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons pecans or to taste
Combine cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Gently fold in grapes. Sprinkle with brown sugar and then pecans. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until well chilled. Serve very cold.
Just as I had requested the recipe after one bite, I had several requests for the recipe at the shower, and I knew I had a hit on my hands.
As my mother-in-law had described, the creamy salad tastes like cheesecake, dotted with sweet-tart grapes and crunchy nuts. It's a perfect marriage of flavors.
I found it easy to put together, and it required no modification for my celiac disease. Just mix the softened cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together and stir to coat the grapes and nuts. The most time-consuming part of the whole endeavor was washing the grapes.
You can use the pecans the recipe called for or substitute your favorite nut in its place. Pecans happen to be my favorite, so in they went. I also ignored the fact that the recipe called for two tablespoons of nuts - I probably put in about a cup.
Since I was expecting about 20 people for the shower, I doubled the original recipe and had more than enough to go around. I served the salad in my best glass bowl and sent home some leftovers with my mom, Ellen and Aunt Kathy.
I'm planning on mixing up the salad for Easter - I'm in charge of desserts this year. It's light and refreshing and perfect for spring, so it's just the thing to serve at Easter time. I?can also see making this for spring and summer picnics. Though there's still a chill in the air, Memorial Day is right around the corner. Follow my lead and bring this salad to your next family event. You'll be the hit of the celebration.
Just remember to bring extra copies of the recipe - you'll need them.