The Sicilian-inspired salad’s flavor combination of fennel’s sweet licorice flavor, juicy tart grapefruit and smooth avocado topped with salty Parmesan is a welcome addition to any meal any time of the year.
I am a self-proclaimed lemon head. No, not the ’80’s band (although I do love me a little Evan Dando), nor the super sour hard candy that’ll send your tastebuds into orbit. In so much of the food I cook, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds just the right bright citrus notes to liven up a blah bite or balance out a rich and heavy dish.
One of my fondest memories as a kid is sitting at my grandparents breakfast table and watching my grandpa section his daily grapefruit with his special grapefruit knife. Grandpa was a man of few words, but one thing he would always say is, “Heidi, you should eat grapefruit.”
As a youngster who leaned more to the sweeter side than the tart, I politely declined every time. What I later realized is he had a secret to enjoying his grapefruit: a big spoonful of sugar he’d sprinkle over the top. I always knew he was smart, but that sealed the deal.
Just like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and xx, my culinary taster pallet developed and changed over the years. So when I came across this bright, and fresh, and totally easy to pull together salad that works equally as well as a meal-time opener or as the main star, I was finally ready to go all-in on the grapefruit eating band wagon.
With recipes like Savory Lemon and Olive Oil Cakes to Grilled Shrimp, Chorizo and Orange Tapas and Mandarin and Raspberry Ricotta Tart, this cookbook shows off how citrus easily spans each stage of the dining experience with lemon, lime, pomelos, kumquats, mandarin and more.
How to Peel and Segment Grapefruit
Most citrus like oranges and mandarins are easily enjoyed by simply peeling or slicing, but when added to a salad like this one, it’s definitely prettiest when the outer white pith or membrane of each of the sections is removed. It’s easy to do.
Simply slice off the top and bottom of the fruit and stand it on one of the flat ends. Use a sharp knife to slice the skin and membrane from the fruit, leaving the fruit plump, juicy, and bare. Slice the fruit into founds or segments. To segment the fruit, run a sharp knife alongside the individual membranes.
About this Salad
Grapefruit may be the star of this salad but fennel is a super strong back up coming in strong from the wings. Fennel adds a crisp bite to the salad, and when shaved thinly melds nicely with all of the flavors without taking over. I use this handheld mandolin for an easy way to get uniform slices. You can also use it to make long, thin flakes of good Parmesan Reggiano.
The dressing for this salad is very similar to my standard lemon-flavored dressing but with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice instead. I used a grainy brown mustard in lieu of Marie’s suggestion to use Dijon, but either or a combination of both will work equally well. And it’s one of my favorite shake in a jar dressings for a super easy mix and store solution.
I used micro green pea shoots for this salad but you could certainly substitute them with a light spring mix, arugula, or baby spinach if you prefer. And as always, season with more kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
While this salad is wonderful any time of the year, it works especially well in that transition time from winter to spring before all of the summer fixings come into season, and like Marie suggests, it tastes even better on a hot summer night with a glass of rosé. Cheers!
Recipe Ideas to Serve With this Salad
A clean, bright salad like this one is easily paired with the simplest flavored dishes to those more robust. Here’s a few to consider adding to your menu prep to make a whole meal:
- 30-Minute Pork Scallopini With Lemons and Capers
- Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni
- Buffalo Chicken Fettuccine
- Marinated Flank Steak with Asian Chimichurri Sauce
- Bruschetta Chicken
- Coconut Rice Veggie Bowls
Avocado Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
- 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
- 1 avocado peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 pink grapefruits peeled and segmented
- 2 handfuls lightweight greens such as pea shoots baby spinach, or watercress
- Shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
- Citrus dressing
- For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon grainy brown mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshy ground black pepper
Combine the fennel, avocado, grapefruits and greens in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with 3-4 tablespoons of the citrus dressing and season with the salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning and top with the shaved pieces of the Parmesan.
For the Dressing
Add all of the ingredients to a jar with a fitted lid. Close the jar and shake well.
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