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Dinners & Dragons: Pickled Grape and Cucumber Salad

Paired with Barovian Explorations and a Wolf Hunt We'll get around to some bullet point summaries of recent sessions this weekend, but in the meantime, this salad was a big hit and paired nicely with Candace's (aka Ramona Briars) squash fritters. Your Dungeon Master here does not think much of his salad making skills, but this was well received! Special thanks to Grace for introducing quick pickle grapes into the mix! Ingredients 1 cup red grapes, halved or quartered 1 & 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (for pickling) 1 bulb of fennel, greens trimmed and cut into 1/4" wide slices Light spray cooking oil 3x cucumbers, peeled, quartered, and cut into chunks 1/2 cup of walnut pieces (more if desired) 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled 1 bunch green onions, greens only, 1/4" pieces 1/4 cup fresh dill, cut into 1/2 inch pieces Greek yogurt or tzatziki inspired dressing ~ This could easily be homemade, but we found a nice tzatziki Caesar that seemed to suit our group's dietary profile. Preliminary Steps In a mason jar or other airtight container, place the grapes and pour over with white wine vinegar until covered. Depending on the particular container, you may need more or less vinegar. Shake lightly, cover, and set aside for at least an hour (though overnight or several days are just fine). Preheat your oven to 400 F or grill the fennel; either way, spray it with a bit of oil. We had other items in the oven, so that was the way to go. At 400 F, the fennel browns after 30-40 minutes, a grill should take much less. Remove from heat once softened and allow to cool. (Note: I was nervous about the bulb base being too fibrous like cabbage, but when I nibbled that, it was smooth and soft and tasty, so you can use that too! The frond stems have tender centers, but the outsides will likely be too fibrous.) Once cooled, cut into uniform pieces. Assembly I was so nervous about this, that I left all the ingredients separate, but they combined really well. It's a salad, so just throw it together and stir it up! The goat cheese and dressing help the salad toss and hold together instead of separating with the walnuts at the base. We didn't use quite all of the fennel (leaving out about a quarter of it) and about half of the bottle of the dressing, which is up to taste preferences. Pairing & Notes Candace's squash fritters and the pan-fried tepa patties provided by Cindy (Zyrella) provided a nice bit of protein and substance to the dish. If your table is gluten-friendly, consider a crusty bread. The tangy sweetness of the grapes contrasted nicely with the creamy base of the salad and might go nicely in a cocktail, too! You can also get much fancier with pickled grapes (as pictured), but these are really tasty and incredibly simple. Since grapes tend to get forgotten in my fridge, this will be a go-to strategy in the future. Another family favorite was to freeze them like wee popsicles.

Image Credit: Dinner & Dragons concept by Heather Thornton.

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