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Sweet and bitter, pale and saturated, large despite “grape” in its name: all of these contradictions describe the fruit of February, grapefruit. An odd citrus, it is, with its vibrant pulp, a deceptive orange-like exterior, and a sourness that somehow still allows it to be classified as fruit. I personally almost despise grapefruit– unless I blanket it in sugar, in which case I’m essentially covering up the taste unique to the fruit. And some people adore grapefruit for its health benefits and refreshing tart taste. Alas, I am open to new experiences, even if they might hurt the glands in my cheeks. Let us celebrate (even if hesitantly) February’s fruit, the grapefruit!
Let’s start with something small to entice the taste buds a little and work our way through a meal and towards dessert.
Awaken the palette with some Orange and Grapefruit Slices with Coconut, a small but sweet snack akin to ambrosia. Simply mix orange and grapefruit with brown sugar and top with coconut. Fresh and light, this dish is similar to eating a bag of tropical snack mix, without the dehydration and hence much more refreshing.
Salad is always a welcome appetizer, and this Grapefruit, Goat Cheese, and Black Pepper Salad balances different textures and flavors so every mouthful brings something you hadn’t noticed a bite ago. Though the grapefruit recipe calls for mixed greens, grapefruit, pepper, and goat cheese only, the simplicity of this salad dish really lends itself to different customizations. Try adding avocado or walnuts like in the photo above for a contrast in texture with the cheese. Or toss a handful of craisins and create an extra zing for your taste buds!
So what shall we cleanse our palates with?
Mojitos are a popular drink right now, and the double-refreshing taste of a Grapefruit and Mint Mojito gives the perfect amount of tart to the minty drink. A little sugar boils with water, the zest of a ruby red grapefruit infuses with rum, and the end result (which also includes mint syrup and some seltzer) is a light cocktail that can only be described as clean, crisp, and awesome.
Perhaps something a bit sweeter will tempt that whistle of yours: the Pink Grapefruit Cocktail. Fresh pink grapefruit juice mingles with a distant cousin, lemon, an even more distant relative, orange liqueur, and a complete stranger, vodka, for a lightly sweet, slightly sour drink that complements the dishes to come.
And now for the main course…
Wow! Are you as surprised as I am thus far with the applicability of grapefruit? You will be in this Grapefruit Chicken Satay Salad. Both grapefruit and its extracted juice are used in the main dish as well as in the peanut butter sauce. Flavorful and yet fairly healthy, this salad actually will fill you up while delighting your mouth with spicy and sweet notes.
Complement the healthy benefits of grapefruit with an equally healthy dose of low-fat high-protein seafood with Halibut with Grapefruit and Rosemary. A syrup of grapefruit juice and zest plus fresh rosemary drenches broiled halibut for a very light but flavorful main dish that won’t induce a food coma or remorse of any type. Serve with rice pilaf, or for the health nuts, a salad to pack a ridiculously healthy, tasty meal!
Maybe you’re not adventurous enough to jump head first into this grapefruit-is-great-fruit thing. No problem: dip those toes in with Avocado-Grapefruit Relish. A perfect complement to chicken and seafood dishes, this topping uses grapefruit slices to balance with the soft texture of avocado, the sweetness of honey, and the acidity of red-wine vinegar.
Ahh, the versatile bitterness of grapefruit is becoming more and more difficult to fight off. Can the taste buds survive another round of unexpected deliverance?
Let’s delicately pat the dribble and sauce away from our lips and make way for some sweet dessert! Grapefruit Brulee comin’ your way: broiled grapefruit slices cook in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Drizzle the dessert with the leftover juices, and you’ve arrived at a bold combination of juicy and warm, savory and tart, reminiscent of a cozy winter day.
You know, that wasn’t all that painful, was it? While my aversion to grapefruit (and others, perhaps) has not melted away like the brown sugar on the Grapefruit Brulee dessert, discussing the versatility and taste that the bitter fruit lends to different dishes is enough to bring me onto the fence about it. The fruit of the month might not be what one expects with fruit, but grapefruit undoubtedly has a unique taste worth embracing. Remember that the best grapefruits feel heavier than they look and have a smooth (not bumpy) exterior– those are the juiciest ones!