Feeling grateful for grapefruit

February 27, 2002|By Mary Carroll | Mary Carroll,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Grapefruit, as a winter fruit, goes way back in my culinary memory. I see my grandmother in her kitchen, me and my younger sister on high stools beside her. In my grandmother's hands is a giant grapefruit, Indian River variety, most likely. I watch as her large hands slowly peel the grapefruit like an orange and hand sections into our small greedy ones.

Even as a 5-year-old child, I loved the sweet-tart taste, the juiciness, the shocking-pink interior against the yellow peel. My grandmother was the only person in the family who could peel a whole grapefruit into one large spiral of skin, and I thought it was a marvelous accomplishment.

Move forward 10 years. I'm in her kitchen again, making fruit salads as a teen-age cook. Now she teaches me the French way of sectioning grapefruit, cutting the pith away in a method known as supreming. Holding the grapefruit against a cutting board, she slices each end off with a sharp serrated knife, then strips away pith and peel from top to bottom in long curves, exposing the bright-pink interior. The grapefruit is then transferred to one hand, and the knife slides into one side, then the other, of each segment, cutting each away from the white membrane and sectioning it out into a bowl. The fruit salad is elegant, perfect and pithless.

I still love grapefruit. I buy them each week in winter to use in fruit salads, vinaigrette dressings and citrus relishes. Like my grandmother, I weigh the fruit in my hand to get the heaviest, which is an indication of juiciness. A firm and springy feel is best.

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Makes about 1/2 cup or 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

2 teaspoons honey mustard

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

salt, pepper

In small bowl, whisk together oil, grapefruit juice, mustard, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Grapefruit Salsa

Use this citrus salsa to top fish or poultry. It's tart and deliciously spicy.

Makes 8 servings

1 cup diced grapefruit sections (no pith)

1 cup minced red bell pepper

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 green onion, minced

1 small fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

salt, freshly ground pepper

In medium bowl, combine grapefruit, bell pepper, red and green onions, jalapeno chili, garlic, lime juice, oil, parsley and cilantro. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Bring to room temperature. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

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