Citrus Grapefruit Salad with Frisée
Published by Chronicle
Try this wonderful old-fashioned winter salad before a fish course. The contrast of textures and colors is sublime.
While it is assumed that the grapefruit is a hybrid between a sweet orange and a pomelo, (the largest member of the citrus family), it turns out that information about its origin is murky. It’s a good breeder that crosses easily with other citrus. For example, the tangelo, appreciated for its good flavor and few seeds, is a hybrid of the grapefruit and the tangerine.
Grapefruit, which are thought to take their name from their tendency to grow in clusters, require more heat than other citrus to reach peak quality. The climate of Southern California is ideal, and eight varieties of specialty grapefruit flourish in the deep sandy, loamy soil at Bernard Ranches in Riverside. “The cool ocean breezes from some twenty miles away bring up the pigment of our Star Ruby and Rio Red varieties to a deep red,” explains Vince Bernard, who’s been raising citrus for over a quarter century.
Vince Bernard is at an advantage by being able to leave the fruit on the trees until hours before going to market, unlike large commercial growers, who harvest their crops and keep them in cold storage before they are sold, with sharp deterioration in flavor the result. “The flavor of our fruits,” Bernard believes, “is further enhanced by spraying the plants with a nutritional seaweed solution that gets absorbed by their leaves.”
Bernard Ranches harvests all year long. And how does Vince Bernard know when a grapefruit is ready to be picked? “We do a taste test, and make sure that the skin is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.”
Grapefruit are available in two basic types, pigmented and white fleshed. The color of pink varieties comes from the presence of lycopene pigment, which requires steady exposure to high growing temperatures to do its work. The types can be used interchangeably, and the only cautionary note applies to both: grapefruit can interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize certain drugs, so check your prescription labels.
Look for grapefruit that are heavy for their size and have thin skins.
Store grapefruit loose-never in plastic-in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Or, arrange them on a large platter placed where air circulates freely for up to 1 week. If they show signs of molding, discard the moldy fruits and refrigerate the rest.
Here is an easy way to section a grapefruit-or nearly any other citrus fruit-so that flesh is free of any bitter white pith: Cut a slice off both the stem and blossom end and stand the grapefruit upright on a cutting board. Following the contour of the fruit, slice off the peel in wide strips, taking as much of the white pith with the peel as possible. Then, holding the grapefruit in one hand and working over a bowl, cut along both sides of each segment to release it from the membrane and then coax it free, letting it drop into the bowl. Use the tip of the knife to pry out any seeds from the sections.
If you are juicing grapefruits, use the juice right away, as it turns bitter if it stands for too long.
Vince Bernard usually brings four different varieties, depending on what is ripe and juicy at the moment, to the market each week. Deep red Star Ruby is crisp and clean tasting, seedless, and has easy-to-peel skin. It is smaller and less acidic than most other rosy varieties. Rio Red is lighter and slightly larger, has a smooth rind blushed with red, and a sweet-tart taste. It’s excellent for juicing. Marsh is the most popular white grapefruit, with a juicy, aromatic, rich flavor. It’s seedless and great for juicing. Finally, Oroblanco, a cross between a pomelo and a grapefruit, is paler and thicker skinned than the Marsh. It has a nonbitter, juicy quality and a faintly astringent finish.
Serves4 to 6
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturecreamy, crisp, sweet, tart
Type of Dishfirst course salad, salad
- 2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 grapefruit, preferably pink, sectioned (see Notes)
- 2 scallions, white part and about 2 inches of the green, minced
- Few drops aged balsamic vinegar
- Splash of extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 handfuls of frisée
In a bowl, combine the avocados and grapefruit and scatter the scallions over the top. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste to make a vinaigrette.
In another bowl, drizzle one-third of the vinaigrette over the frisée and toss to coat the leaves. Arrange the frisée in a bed on a platter. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the avocado-grapefruit mixture and toss gently with your hands to coat evenly. Arrange the mixture on the bed of frisée and serve.
2006 Christopher Hirsheimer and Peggy Knickerbocker