Grapefruit & Avocado Salad
Even more than flavor I’ve always been obsessed with the textures in food. How it feels in my mouth and in my hands as I prepare it is the most sensual, absorbing part of the food experience for me. I’ll never forget learning, while living in Japan, that they have at least ten different words to describe what we blandly call “crunchy”. I completely agree, there are so many subtle nuances and they each deserve their own individual descriptive word.
Supreme-ing grapefruits might seem like a supreme waste of time to most people but its one of life’s delicious little pleasures to me. When working in restaurants I’d happily pass on dicing onions but take on supreming mountains of citrus any day! (if you’ve got no idea what a “supreme” is, no worries, stay tuned and you’ll be doing it like a pro in no time, it’s easy, with a bit of practice!). The supreme really gets my full attention because of how this cut highlights the texture of the citrus, especially nice fat pink grapefruits! It can be done with any citrus, but grapefruit are the easiest, since the segments are the largest.
In this salad I adore the bright contrasting colors and smoothness of the avocado against the acid of the grapefruit. The slight crunch of the slivers of red onion add just the right counterpoint and “crunch”.
My total indulgence in citrus during the winter makes me forget almost entirely about the cucumbers and tomatoes of summer.
2 Tablespoons grapefruit juice
2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar (rice vinegar works too or sub red wine vinegar but use only 1 Tablespoon, or to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
few turns black pepper – about 1/8 tsp
2 Tbsp finely minced red onion
6 Tablespoons light olive oil (or 3 Tbsp stronger olive oil and 3 Tbsp no taste oil, like grapeseed oil)
Add the juice, vinegar, salt, black pepper and red onion all to a small jar and shake vigorously for 5 seconds or so. Add the oils and shake again. Set aside for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad. This allows the onion to mellow a bit.
1 small head butter lettuce (about 2 handfuls of washed leaves)
1 handful of arugula
2 pink grapefruits
1 large ripe avocado
Wash and dry the butter lettuce and arugula. Supreme the grapefruit, like I show in the video. Peel the avocado and slice into strips. Toss the lettuce, arugula and about half of the dressing together. Add the grapefruit segments (reserving the juice for another purpose) and the avocado slices and toss again gently. Add dressing a bit more at a time until it is just how you like it. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper to your taste. Serve immediately. All of the ingredients, besides slicing the avocado, can be prepared a day in advance and held in the refrigerator. Toss just before serving.
Playing with your food:
If you want to give this a bit of a Mexican vibe then switch from vinegar to lime juice, add some freshly chopped cilantro, a bit more red onion, 1/2 tsp ground cumin to the dressing and 1/2 cup of thinly sliced or cubed jicama. If you like it spicy then add in some freshly minced jalapeno. This would be great served along some grilled fish or shrimp.
You could also take this in a Japanese direction by switching the grapefruit to orange, adding a bit of grated ginger and toasted sesame oil to the dressing and substitute soy sauce for the salt. To make it more authentic you have the option of tossing the salad with some toasted sesame seeds and switching the red onion to a 1/4 cup of thinly sliced scallions. You can use any mild flavored greens you want for this but I’d probably use mostly spinach and then a handful of finely sliced cabbage, bok choy, daikon radish or red radish. I would double the dressing recipe and serve this salad with soba noodles, using the dressing on the noodles as well. Would be delicious either warm or with chilled noodles. If you love seaweed then rehydrate some wakame and/or sea palm, drain and add to this dish.