Nov 022010

Is there anything more lovely and wintry than a juicy, sweet, Ruby Red Grapefruit?

I just love them.  The scent, the flavor, the feeling of wellness that you get when you’ve eaten one.

As you can get avocados almost anytime year round these days, I wanted to wait to make my Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Toasted Walnuts until the best grapefruits are in the market (and the walnuts are falling from the trees)  . . . which is right about . . . NOW!  Toss them with a lovely vinaigrette, some toasted walnuts and served up in some gorgeous, soft butter lettuce leaves (ours is growing like crazy right now in our winter garden) and you have a special salad suitable for a date-night-in or an intimate dinner party.

I honestly can’t decide if I’d want to eat it before, during or after the main entree as a palate cleanser.

Add some finely diced sushi-grade Ahi tuna, or some grilled shrimp and you have a light winter supper that will beat the doldrums of heavy winter foods.

Rather than give you a recipe for this salad,  I recommend preparing it based upon the number of people you’re serving. I envision either serving this up on a large platter with each person’s salad prepared in a lettuce cup, to be served directly on their salad plate, as is, or to serve them up on individual salad plates from the start rather than from a big salad bowl. That way, the right proportion of avocado to grapefruit gets allocated, service is easy and the presentation says, “special.” I make a version of this with lime juice, diced Ahi tuna, and the “Asian” vinaigrette noted below, as a special “date night in” supper for T. and I after the boys are in bed, and can’t wait to make this grapefruit and walnut winter version later this week!

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Toasted Walnuts

For the salad, per person:

  • 1 to 2 large, cupped leaves of crisp, fresh butter lettuce
  • 1/2 Hass avocado
  • 1/2 ruby red grapefruit
  • 1 Tablespoon roasted walnuts, chopped

For the vinaigrette (this recipe will sufficiently dress four salads worth so multiply or divide as needed to suit the number of people you’re serving)

  • 1/4 cup blend of olive and walnut oils (or all olive oil if you don’t have walnut oil – I just pour roughly 1/8 cup of each in my measuring cup, just eyeball it.)
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced shallot
  • 1 Tablespoon of grapefruit juice (squeezed from the membranes after slicing the segments of the grapefruit for the salad)
  • a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

* for an Asian twist, substitute toasted sesame oil for the walnut oil and rice vinegar for the white wine vinegar. . .

To make the vinaigrette

Whisk together the white wine vinegar, shallot and grapefruit juice together in a small bowl.  Then, whisk in the oil until well-combined.  Season to taste with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  This can be made a bit in advance; whisk before serving to re-incorporate the ingredients.

To make the salad

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then, in a dry pan, place the walnuts to toast.  Toast for about six to eight minutes, turning from time to time, until they smell roasty-toasty.  Be careful not to burn them!  Set aside to cool before chopping.

Wash and dry your butter lettuce leaves and place two leaves, overlapping slightly, to form a cup shape down on either your serving platter or on individual salad plates, per person.

Peel and slice the segments of the grapefruit. To do so, simply slice off the stem and blossom ends of the grapefruit (top and bottom) so you have a flat surface. Then, using a sharp knife, slice off the peel, making sure to remove all of the membrane and pith as you go, turning the grapefruit as you go. Once that is complete, simply locate the white sections indicating segments around the fruit, and using a V-shaped cut, slice each segment out, reserving the segmented grapefruit for juice.

I’m really making this sound more complicated than it is; it’ll take no more than a minute or two (if you’ve never done it) per grapefruit. I wouldn’t do this for a Thanksgiving dinner for twenty, but a date night dinner for two or special dinner party of eight? Definitely worth the time. Here’s a quick and easy video explaining the process.

Then, halve each avocado lengthwise, remove the pit and, using a large spoon, scoop each half out of the skin and slice into four or five wedges per half.

To assemble (if you want to be fancy!) place a slice of avocado, followed by a segment of grapefruit, followed by a slice of avocado (and so on) in a fan shape on top of each lettuce cup.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.  Serve immediately.


This post is written in conjunction with the Whole Foods for the Holidays Progressive Dinner Carnival, Salads edition.  Please go and visit the other contributors!

I’m planning on making this recipe for a date night later this week, but wanted to catch the carnival!, so alas, no pictures of my own yet!  Special thanks to the lovely Ina for the image!

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