well it is finally spring. it is time to forget the polar vortex and the record 16 snowstorms we endured this winter in new england. that is firmly in the rear view mirror now. spring flowers are coming up in the garden, the birds are chirping, the trees have buds, the weather in boston was in the 70s this weekend when i was visiting my son at school making for a lovely stroll around boston commons, newbury street and china town yesterday. so lovely. each new season seems to instruct my palate in a new direction. this spring i want fresh, green, light suppers. i want spinach- peach-blueberry-passionfruit smoothies, vietnamese noodles. today, i can't stop thinking about this salad. i am headed to whole foods shortly to buy grapefruit and avocados to put this wish into action. this is a repeat of a recipe i posted back in early may 2010. but trust me, it bears repeating. this recipe also makes a great lunch or a terrific side dish with grilled meat or fish for supper.
may 6, 2010
warmer weather has me thinking of cool, light, refreshing salads.
grapefruit has just been fantastic this season, so sweet and luscious. especially the late season grapefruit, still excellent in the stores right now. this salad comes together with an irresistible, sweet, tart and savory tang and a delicate but significant crunch.
i love this salad. grapefruit avocado salad is a california classic and makes the most of great local ingredients in season. in the 1940s and 50s my father-in-law ate a grapefruit avocado salad as part of the christmas day menu at his childhood home in brentwood, california. his mother, ona weed, my husband's grandmother, was great friends with edith head, a famously fantastic hollywood costume designer. i never met ona, as she died before i joined the family, but i've always been fascinated by her, for her interesting stories, even more than i interesting than her salads.
in present-day california, you will find, at the slanted door, (a firmly established and very popular vietnamese restaurant now located in the san francisco ferry terminal), a terrific grapefruit and jicama salad with candied pecans that is quite memorable. you can munch on it's crunchy goodness while looking out at the windy, vibrant, sparkling sanfrancisco bay, and thinking about the wonderful mix of textures and flavors, salty, sweet, spicy. mmm. somewhere between these two venerable salads lies the inspiration for this one. i like it so much i could eat it every day during grapefruit season.
salad of mixed greens grapefruit, avocado and pistachios
16oz mixed greens
1/2 cup finely shredded purple cabbage
1, avocado, halved, peeled and sliced
2 large or 3 small grapefruits, a mix of varieties, white, pink and red is best, peeled and sectioned to remove membrane and pith
(you may have a few extra grapefruit sections, so snacking on the irresistibly juicy grapefruit
while making the salad is strongly encouraged, a nice little reward for the chef)
1/4 cup chopped toasted unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
combine salad greens and vegetables in a large bowl or on a platter. arrange cabbage, avocado, grapefruit sections. sprinkle with cilantro leaves and chopped pistachios.
for the dressing
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (i squeeze what i need from the remainder of the grapefruit after sectioning)
1 T minced cilantro stems
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced shallot
1/4 cup ponzu or champagne vinegar (something very light and slightly fruity)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp agave nectar or light brown sugar
mix thoroughly, allow flavors to blend for 10 minutes before serving, the flavors really blossom quickly but it does take several minutes.
lightly pour the dressing all over the salad, toss, and serve.
my family stopped speaking when i served this to them. 5 minutes of very mindful munching later, they peppered me with compliments. then they ate their vietnamese style broiled sole with nuoc chum and steamed jasmine rice very happily reminiscing about the salad.