If eight-year-old me heard present-day me say that I love raisins, he’d probably be confused and angry. Raisins? The dried up grapes that come in a little cardboard box? The ones that you squish into the corner of said box and pull out as one purple-brown gummy clump, when all you wanted was a single raisin? The world’s worst lunchbox snack? Yes. Ex-grapes. Raisins. That is what I’m talking about.
Because while raisins are absolutely the world’s worst snack food—you will not convince me otherwise—they’re actually an incredible ingredient. They have a lot to offer. There’s a chance that, after years of opening your lunch box to the face of that woman in a red bonnet, smiling hopefully at you from a box of dried fruit, you haven’t thought to give raisins the time of day. But I think it’s time you opened your heart and gave these little guys a chance.
But wait. Why the hell do I like raisins if they’re no good for snacking on? Well, raisins are sweet. You probably know that by now. And they also have texture, unlike sweeteners like honey or sugar which dissolve into whatever you add them to. This means that raisins possess a very nice two-for-one value. And I’m not talking about desserts. I’m talking about adding raisins to savory dishes.
We recently published an extremely foolproof fish with spiced chickpeas recipe, and while I do love the fish and the chickpeas, the best part of this recipe is the condiment. Want to guess what’s in it? Yup. Mint. And shallots. And vinegar. And a bunch of raisins. It’s a tangy, fresh, sweet condiment that I’d throw on just about anything, and a very good example of the flavor profile that raisins are so good at creating, a tantalizing sweet and sour combination that the Italians call agrodolce. When it comes to acid-based condiments, mixing in some chopped raisins is a sure-fire way to get that sweet-and-sour flavor bomb.