Grapefruit finds its way into my basket when I’m at the market. I always have good intentions when I grab one or more of the pinkish-orange orbs of bracingly sweet tart fruit imagining that I’ll eat one a day. We all know that imaging something doesn’t quite make it happen, so once home, the grapefruit are wedged to the back of the bin in my refrigerator by other seemingly more important orbs of wonderfulness or left to gather dust and sunlight each morning on the top level of my “other ingredients” rack. Looks beautiful for a while, and then, well, it becomes yet another science experiment.
What is wrong with me?
If I had to line up citrus in the order it’s been a factor in my life, oranges would be first on the list. This can’t be significant because my mother put them in my lunch box on most days. She’d score the skin to make it easy to peel and I always thought that was pretty cool. Sometimes, she’d quarter them, sprinkle them with salt and seal them in a baggie, making them extra juicy by the time lunch rolled around in my school kid day. Makes me want an orange with salt just thinking about it. For the sake of contrast, my sister would have lemons first on her citrus list because she ate them like oranges when she was little, right from the rind. I still haven’t figured out how she could do that. I’d suck on a lemon, too, but it had to be dipped in the sugar bowl first, and that was risking certain death if my mother found out about it.
Tangerines had to be next on the list because how much effort does it take to eat one? Zero, thanks to that peeling, and seeds or no seeds, the sections come right apart. Having lived in a beautiful place with two tangerine trees once upon a time, I am lucky to have memories of eating them sun-warmed right from the tree, and images of my youngest, still in diapers, sitting with my mother on the hill where the trees grew while she taught him to peel them.
Grapefruit was always last on the list, requiring a sprinkle of sugar to ward off the tartness just like that wedge of lemon. When I saw them in the house, I remember thinking my mother was on a diet more than it was fruit destined for me. Thankfully I figured out how to eat grapefruit without sugar at some point in my life. I’m thinking it was when I started teaching. Anything that could be eaten on the run worked and became a habit because there was no time during the day to think about food — ever.
Ruby Reds probably had quite a bit to do with my learning to eat a grapefruit like an orange because they’re so sweet, but I have more time on my hands now, so can actually take the time to enjoy them with a fork and knife on a plate with avocado and a few other salad ingredients instead of having to clean up the juice that inevitably runs down my arm when I eat them from the peel.
If you’re someone who feels salad isn’t appealing at this time of year, don’t deny your body the flavor or nutrition this salad packs. Get yourself warmed up with a cup of soup first, then dig into the salad.
Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Basil and Lime
about 1/4 grapefruit and avocado per serving
fresh basil leaves
a bit of thinly sliced red onion
crumbled goat cheese
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of half a key lime
sea salt & cracked pepper
This salad works best on a plate for me. Large pieces down first, then add the basil, onions, and cheese. Lime juice before the olive oil. Perfect with Maldon sea salt. I like to cut it up to mix the flavors and make sure each bite has a bit of everything.
- Try it with cilantro or arugula instead of basil. Substitute Feta or Cotija for the goat cheese. Give hazelnut oil a go instead of olive oil, or maybe a bit of chili oil. Better yet, add some very nice thinly sliced roasted red jalapenos to get beneficial capsaicin as well. Don’t have limes? Lemons or oranges will also taste well squeezed over this salad. Want more of a crunch? Add some sliced cucumbers. Need some protein beyond what the cheese provides? Add a bit of proscuitto.
- This salad is amazingly good for your body. Grapefruit — especially that Ruby Red — is full of that amazing phytonutrient, lycopene (like tomatoes — especially cooked tomatoes) which is known to help fight oxygen free radicals. They’re also packed with Vitamin C. Read more about the nutritional wonders of grapefruit here. Avocados do contain a high percentage of fat and we know that fat is fat as far as calories go, but it’s monosaturated fat — just like the fat in the olive oil. However, the avocado oil is thought to increase the absorption of the lycopene, increasing its benefit. Read more here.
- To help with the “salad isn’t winter food” dilemma, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. I don’t like cold salad even on hot days so always serve salad at a reasonable room temp.
- In other news, I just treated myself to a dwarf Meyer lemon tree for my patio. It’s loaded with blossoms and I have just the spot for it where, when the windows are open, I will be able to smell the intoxicating fragrance. Can’t wait. Clearly, I’ll have even more to say about lemons than I have.