A collection of seasonal recipes and stories

six ways to eat a grapefruit

There’s absolutely nothing local about grapefruit, but you know what’s available locally right now? Turnips. There might still be a couple winter squash in my basement, but mostly it’s turnips. I’m not even sure I like turnips, so when a coworker mentioned that her daughter’s school was having a fruit fundraiser I succumbed to the siren song of citrus and ordered twelve pounds of grapefruit. Twelve pounds sounds like a lot of grapefruit, but it’s really not. The fruit was delivered last Friday and when I arrived at work the following Monday eager to chat with my friend and fellow grapefruit enthusiast Katie, she’d nearly run out. “What did you do with them?” I asked, hoping for a brilliant recipe I’d not yet discovered. “I just ate them,” she answered.

Oh. That honestly hadn’t occurred to me.

I started with salmon (also not local) and then moved on to risotto. Neither of them look very pretty, but they both taste damn good. Salmon is one of my favorite foods; I might love it even more than I love crabs, and for a girl raised along the Chesapeake Bay that speaks volumes. This salmon, with its accompanying grapefruit and basil relish, is particularly yummy. The bright zingy-ness of the grapefruit plays off the rich, fatty taste of salmon in a lovely combination of hot and cold. The risotto — which we ate on a different night because, really, let’s not overdo it with the grapefruit — is a pleasantly weird fusion of tart and creamy that’s just fantastic.

Also fantastic: grapefruit and champagne sorbet, made extra-fantastic by the champagne, of course. It’s a dainty little pink-tinged princess of a dessert, sweet and delicately fruity with just a hint of effervescence as it dissolves on your tongue. Naturally it makes for a lovely après-dinner treat, but a spoonful or two while your morning tea steeps is quite invigorating. It’s also delightfully refreshing after a busy day at work, and it’s just the sort of thing to ease a sore throat if you’ve somehow managed to catch a cold despite having recently consumed twelve pounds of vitamin-C-filled grapefruit. Plus when you make it you’re left with more than half a bottle of champagne, which it would be a shame to waste.

As impressed as we were with all of that grapefruity goodness, the highlight of our grapefruit extravaganza was a cake — a moist, delicious, crumbly wonder of a cake drizzled with tangy sweetness. This cake is amazing. Awesome. Ethereal. Delectable. Divine. Really, I’m not sure there are enough adjectives to describe it; I adore this cake. It’s tangy and zingy and slightly sweet, and the grapefruit flavor shines through in a lovely way that’s just a step or two above subtle. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever made, and I’ve made some pretty good stuff.

And honestly, I meant to stop there; I figured we’d just eat the last grapefruit for breakfast. But then the temperature shot way up into the mid-40s (the mid-40s!) and I drove around with the sunroof open, blasting Dashboard Confessional’s “Warmth of the Sand,” thinking about margaritas and barbecues and sunscreen, and feeling downright euphoric. The sand is still blanketed by a thin layer of snow and we’re months away from icy drinks and olive shoulders, but a girl can dream. A girl can also step carefully across the ice still covering her deck to throw a couple shrimp skewers on the grill, then stand quietly in the golden light breathing in the crisp evening air and sighing in contentment. Which is exactly what I did Saturday night, freshly-mixed grapefruit margarita in hand. Then I chopped up half of our last grapefruit, tossed it with some cilantro, avocado and jalapeño, and happily dined in my little land of make-believe summer.

Oven Roasted Salmon with Grapefruit & Basil Relish
from Cook’s Illustrated
recipe here

Grapefruit Risotto
adapted from Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Fruit and Martha Stewart
(serves 4)

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red grapefruit
4-6 c. vegetable or chicken stock
2 T. olive oil or butter, or a combination
1½ c. arborio rice
½ c. white wine
1 t. salt
1 T. butter
½ c. freshly grated parmesan

1) Using a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the grapefruit, taking care to peel only the thin outer colored part and not the bitter white pith below. Plunge the strips of zest into boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and cool them, then chop them finely. Set aside.

2) Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit. Combine ½ c. juice with the stock in a medium saucepan, reserving any remaining juice for some other purpose (like cake!), and heat to a simmer.

3) Melt the butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until coated with butter, then cook for about 3 minutes. Add wine and stir until completely absorbed.

4) Use a ladle or measuring cup to add the warmed stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally until most of the stock has been absorbed. Add additional stock as each new addition is absorbed, stirring frequently but not constantly.

5) Taste the rice after about 20 minutes. When it’s almost al dente (this could take closer to 30 minutes than 20), add the salt and most of the zest along with the last 1/2 cup of stock. Once the stock has been mostly absorbed, remove from heat, add the parmesan and butter, and stir to combine. Garnish with additional zest before serving.

Pink Grapefruit-Champagne Sorbet
from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop
(makes 1 quart)

1 1/3 c. champagne or sparkling wine (prosecco would be especially nice)
1 c. sugar
2½ c. freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (from about 3 grapefruits)

1) In a medium saucepan, heat about half the champagne with the sugar, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining champagne and grapefruit juice.

2) Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home
recipe here (I just substituted grapefruit wherever lemon was called for)

Grapefruit Margarita
(makes 2)

3 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
3 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
3 oz. simple syrup
6 oz. good tequila
coarse salt
lime and/or grapefruit slices for garnish

Mix first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mason jar (or whatever). Shake until good and frothy. Rub a lime or grapefruit around the rim of the glass, then dip in salt. Pour liquid into glasses (over more ice if you like), garnish with fruit slices, and enjoy.

Chili-Rubbed Shrimp
from Raichlen’s Indoor Grilling
available here

Grapefruit & Avocado Salsa
(serves 4)

1 t. olive oil
2-3 T. fresh lime or grapefruit juice
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 grapefruit, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
1 orange, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
¼ t. kosher salt
¼ t. freshly ground pepper

Whisk together olive oil and citrus juice. Combine remaining ingredients in medium bowl and pour juice over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir to combine.

10 responses

  1. Katie

    I’d like to justify my “I just ate them” by adding that if I had not promptly done so, every other member of the household would have gotten their paws on my harvest of citrus and consumed the lot. It was an act of self-preservation, I think. And I must admit that the plethora of grapefruit recalled those innovative college days when my roommates and I got creative with the Haribo grapefruit slices by soaking them in a bottle of gin for a good two weeks while away for spring break. We came back to find a pretty sweet and tangy concoction ready to toast our return!

    March 17, 2009 at 8:13 am

  2. Megan

    I meant that in a very ‘impressed with your sanity’ kind of way. And gin. . .yum! Would you settle for a small bottle of vin de pamplemousse in a month or so?

    March 17, 2009 at 8:47 am

  3. Jeff St. Denis

    These are great! I am a big fan of grapefruit, but never seem to use it much. Definitely going to try that cake.

    Can you get mâche in Michigan? Epic Roots is a big producer out here in CA and Whole Foods in VA carried it. The grapefruit/avocado salad recipe on their site is easy and super tastey. I usually end up sweetening with bit of honey and topping the whole thing with a bit of good olive oil.


    Enjoying your cooking/photos. Hope to catch up some time.

    March 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm

  4. Wow, beautiful photos and great ideas! The cake sounds like the best, but as you might tell from my name I am partial to the sweeter things… The sorbet sounds fantastic too, but that might just be because you called it a “dainty little pink-tinged princess”!

    ; )

    March 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm

  5. I’ve made the lemon cake before, total genius to make it with grapefruit.

    (I like the title of this entry by the way, very Wallace Stevens)

    March 19, 2009 at 5:22 am

  6. I’m going to have to try that risotto. Yum.

    Our neighbors have a grapefruit tree, and like many Angelenos, let most of the fruit rot on the ground. But if it drops on the public sidewalk, it’s fair game, right? Damn straight. This time of year I keep a close watch on their sidewalk, and I can hear the splat of a grapefruit dropping on it from forty yards, at least.

    Why all the enthusiasm? Because salty dogs are my most favorite drink in the whole wide world. On a hot day, nothing beats a salty dog made with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Lord, my mouth is watering just thinking about it, which I’m sure doesn’t make me sound like an alkie at all.

    March 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm

  7. Megan

    Jeff – I don’t know that I’ve ever seen mâche, but that could be because I haven’t known to look for it. I’ve added to my list of things to grow myself this summer. Thanks for the tip and the link. It would be great to catch up. . .maybe hang out at the Herndon Hacienda and sneak a couple of beers out of the cooler for old times sake?

    SodaCandy – Thank you! The sorbet was definitely a close second to the cake.

    Lu – You know me. . .all poetic and shit.

    Vikki – I think fruit hanging OVER the sidewalk might even be fair game, and mmmmmmm salty dogs. I just arrived home from a looooooong day and was trying to decide on a cocktail – used up the last of the grapefruit juice and the last of the gin. It’s going down quickly.

    March 20, 2009 at 5:38 pm

  8. Oh my gosh. I have grapefruit coming out my ears. Really. My neighbor has a full size mature tree – I have eggs. We swap. He gave me waaaaay more than I gave him, of course. Holy cow. Next year I am willing to share. I wonder what the shipping would be? Seriously.

    I have been drinking grapefruit margaritas using the 3-2-1 recipe… modified so that I can still care for my family.

    1 part triple sec – and when I ran out I used blue curacao.. looked great!
    2 parts tequila I used the overstock of Cuervo gold in the pantry
    3 parts (the original recipe) grapefruit juice. I used 6 parts.

    The recipe says rim with sugar. NO WAY! I still rim with salt and it is very, very good.

    We just finished the gallons of juice from the last squeeze. I will squeeze again tomorrow.

    I’ll have to try the cake. I’ll bet the kids will go nuts.

    March 22, 2009 at 9:12 pm

  9. Tricia

    I’m so happy I found this article. My co-worker has a grapefruit tree and brings a few to the office occasionally. Having not eat one before, I bought one home one day. Not knowing what to do with it I decide that I would try and make grapefruit a natural part of my diet. So I Googled “Fun ways to eat a grapefruit” and that’s how I hold this article. I’m so excited to try some of these exciting dishes…

    January 9, 2010 at 3:16 am

  10. I love everything grapefruit! Great article.

    February 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

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