Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

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So…I thought I’d share this recipe as my first because: it’s one of my favorites, everyone I make it for thereafter declares it as their favorite, and it contains one of my namesake ingredients, of course.

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This recipe is largely inspired by the cara cara salad recipe that Chef Carmen Quagliata makes every winter at Union Square Cafe in New York City. I worked for Chef Carmen right out of culinary school and cannot give a single person more credit for shaping my cooking foundation.

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I really don’t think any other cheese would be as good as ricotta salata in this, but if you can’t find it, feta would make a good substitute.

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INGREDIENTS (serves 2-4)

  • 1 grapefruit, segmented (reserve 2 tbsp. juice)
  • ½ avocado, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. fennel, small chop
  • 2 tbsp. red onion, small chop
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • ricotta salata cheese, shaved to garnish
  • mint, chiffonade, to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

-Cut the grapefruit in segments, removing all of the pith.tip 1
-Thinly slice the avocado and sprinkle with some grapefruit juice to prevent oxidation.tip 2,3

To make vinaigrette:

-In a small sauté or sauce pan, turn burner to medium low and add 1 tbsp. olive oil.
-Add fennel to olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, and gently sweat out for a minute- you just want to slightly cook the fennel.
-Turn off heat and add red onion.
-Add the grapefruit juice and remaining olive oil.

To finish:

-Arrange grapefruit and avocado on a plate, alternating pieces.tip 4
-Season with salt and pepper.
-Spoon vinaigrette on top.
-Garnish with mint and ricotta salata.tip 5,6

My tips:

1.  Cold, refrigerated grapefruits are best for cutting segments. They’ll be firmer, making them easier to cut and will release less juice. A sharp knife makes this task (in particular) much easier. 2.  Avocados are also easier to cut and peel when they’re cold.  They need to be sliceable, so make sure you choose one that’s not too hard, not too soft.
3.  I like to cut the avocado on a slight bias rather than straight up and down. This makes them easier to stack and a little more attractive.
4.  If the grapefruit pieces keep sliding off the avocado, they’re probably too thick. You can slice them thinner lengthwise if you’re worried about presentation.
5.  It’s not necessary but I prefer to bake the ricotta salata, which removes some of the moisture and makes it easier to shave.  {To bake: Place in 350 F oven on a sheet tray for 45 minutes.  The edges will be golden brown. Slice away all sides and shave with vegetable peeler}.
6.  This salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. I often do that.

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