Grape Salad – Lightened Up

Grape Salad - Lightened Up

Grape Salad – Lightened Up

It’s July 4th, time for gatherings, cook outs, barbeque, friends, family and fun!  Here is a delicious one for you to try for your picnic.  It makes a great dessert, the kids love it because it’s sweet and most of them love grapes!  And, it’s better for them than cakes and pies.

The first time I saw grape salad, my sister brought it over for a family cookout we were having.  She was home from Florida for a few weeks in the summer, and we always try to have at least one family gathering when she comes home.  And of course, my family does not gather without food.  LOTS of good food.

So, she came in carrying this stuff in a glass cake pan, and I could see there was something green in there mixed into some white stuff…..looked pretty strange.  Me being the tactful and considerate person that I am, asked what the #@*% is that?!  Nonchalantly as always, she says “grape salad”.   Okay.  What is grape salad?  Is that some weird Florida thing?  “Nope,” she says.  “I got it from someone at our church.  It’s delicious.  Trust me.”  Okay, I trust her food opinions – most of the time.  Once she tells me there is cream cheese involved, I am intrigued.   She tells me quickly what is involved in making it, ending with the sugar-nut topping.  She tells me this is best if you make it at least four hours ahead, preferably make it the night before you’re going to serve it.  That sugar-nut topping collects just a little moisture at its bottom, then is turns into the sort of crunchy, crusty, nutty, beautiful addition to the salad.  Okay, I’m more intrigued.

This stuff is AWESOME.  So simple, so easy, and it gets rave reviews from everyone who tries it.  After they stop commenting on how weird it looks.

About this salad.  Never fully commit to bringing it unless you KNOW the grapes are really crisp and good.  Soft or soggy grapes are NOT good here.  I’ve had it with so-so grapes.  Not worth it.  If someone wants me to bring it or if I tell someone I might bring it, I always add “if the grapes are good.”

When I say this is lightened up, I simply mean I use Neufchatel cheese (reduced fat cream cheese) and light sour cream.  I don’t like fat free cream cheese for anything like this – it’s too soft, almost thin.  It also has lost its “tang” that makes cream cheese what it is.  Same with fat free sour cream.  Not here.  But, you can lighten the load.

Make this.  Trust me.  I wouldn’t lie to you, you’re my friends.   I will be eating this bowl tonight.

And it still looks weird.

Grape Salad - Lightened Up
Recipe type: Dessert, Salad
Cuisine: American
  • 4 pounds of grapes, typically ½ green grapes and ½ red, but whatever kind are good and crisp
  • 1 - 8 ounce package light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ - 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or your favorite nuts
  1. Remove the grapes from the stems. Rinse and thoroughly drain. I roll them around on a clean dish towel to remove excess moisture.
  2. Mix the chopped nuts with the brown sugar and set aside.
  3. In a bowl large enough to add all of the grapes, mix the cream cheese until totally smooth, including any that is on your spatula or spoon or the bowl. Mix in the ½ cup granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Add the grapes, carefully folding and turning them until evenly coated. Pour them into a 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar-nut mixture evenly over the entire top of the grapes. Refrigerate, UNCOVERED, until ready to serve. If you cover it, the crunchy crust doesn't form.



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