Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Avocado and Red Grapefruit Salad

With 20 pounds of grapefruits to consume from our trip out to Anza Borrego, I went in search of recipes online.  I hit up all my favorite food blogs, but for most of them, an entry of "grapefruit" in the search box came up with a short list of zero recipes.  Even searching on common cooking sites returned only a handful recipes, and many of them were not to my liking.  I quickly realized that the grapefruit seems to be the black sheep of the citrus family. 

I wonder why this fruit has such a stigma?  Though the outside of a grapefruit is often misshapen, the waxy rind always greets you with a cheerful blush and hides a jewel-like treasure of fruit within.  Even the delicate pink juice is a special treat.   

Since my random recipe searches online were leaving me less than satisfied, I racked my brain and recalled that I had seen a great recipe in one of my Bon Appetit magazines for an avocado and grapefruit salad.  I searched the website and came up with this.  It was strange, the photo did seem the same as I had remembered, but I was sure it was the right recipe.  I was a little discouraged, because frankly, the photo really did not look appetizing to me at all.  Now I know that outer beauty isn't everything, but surely wanting my food to look good as well as taste good is not a crime.  I decided to give this recipe a go, with a few modifications to fit my tastes and to make the dish more aesthetically pleasing to showcase these gorgeous grapefruits.  

I especially disliked that the recipe suggested slicing the grapefruits cross-wise into four slices; this leaves the eater with cumbersome membranes and a wide grapefruit "steak" to cut as they are eating the salad.  Not pleasant.  Instead, I thought that if I segemented the grapefruits, the dish would look much prettier and each little fruit would be a perfect forkful.  And in case you don't want to read until the end of this post, I will save you the suspense: I was right, as usual. :) The salad was beautiful, and the segments were so easy to eat.  

Since I had never segmented citrus before, I also thought it would be a chance for me to learn a new kitchen skill.  Coincidentally, my good friend and fellow food-blogger Jill had just segmented oranges for her monthly Daring Bakers Challenge and she posted a link to a video on how to segment citrus.  After watching the video just once, slicing out almost-perfect grapefruit segments was a breeze. (Ok, so they would not have even come close to passing inspection in a quickfire challenge on Top Chef, but for my first effort I was thoroughly pleased.)     

Assembling the rest of the salad was oh-so-easy, and also filled with beautiful colors.  Slices of emerald avocados, tiny pieces of magenta shallots, and a dressing like translucent citrine that was dotted with cracked coriander. 

When all was said and done, I was really glad that I had not given up on this recipe.  The flavors were so fresh, and the juicy grapefruits really got to shine.  It was also so quick and easy to prepare, as I suppose it should be, since it was originally featured in the "fast, fresh, and easy" section of the Bon Appetit magazine.  My boyfriend and I ate this with the marinated roasted pork from Pork Char Siu Men, and the flavors complimented each other absolutely perfectly.  I can't wait to make this again in June or July when I really need a refreshing summer salad to beat the heat.

Avocado and Red Grapefruit Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2008

2 Ruby Red grapefruits
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2  teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh coriander seeds, cracked
2 small avocados
2-3 cups mixed baby greens

Using a sharp knife, segment both grapefruits, and reserve membranes and cores.  For instruction on segmenting, watch the video here.  Squeeze the reserved grapefruit cores and membranes over a small bowl to release the juices, likely about 2-3 tablespoons depending on how juicy your grapefruits are.  To the same bowl, add the olive oil and the next 6 ingredients and whisk together to make the dressing. 

Next, halve, pit, peel, and slice the avocados length-wise.  Arrange the grapefruit segments and avocado slices on a plate, and serve with a portion of baby greens.  Drizzle dressing over entire plate to taste.