Sometimes simple is best. This is a lesson I learn over and over, both in life and in the kitchen. There were so many good reminders that simple = good on our recent weekend in Rome; if you put a just a few good-quality ingredients together, magic happens.
A few weeks back when I posted this grapefruit and fennel salad, many of you expressed interest in adding avocado. I advised against it (a texture thing) (but maybe some of you tried it anyways since I’m not the boss of you – how’d it turn out?) and mentioned this other grapefruit salad that features avocado. This is that salad.
It doesn’t get much more simple than this: a plate of grapefruit and avocado, sprinkled with chili peppers, drizzled with grapefruit juice and really good olive oil, and finished with a few bright sprigs of cilantro. The most tedious part of putting this together is segmenting the grapefruit, which, with a good sharp knife, should take you no more than a couple of minutes.
If there’s one thing instagram tells me, it’s that the people are into avocados! For a time they were shunned for their high fat content, but with the current (and sensible) popularity of healthy fats, avocados are in vogue in a big way. And so they should be. Although about 85% of the calories in an avocado come from fat, about half of that fat comes in the form of oleic acid, which is similar to the fat in olive oil, and has been shown to lower our risk of heart disease.
And guess what else? Oleic acid helps our digestive tract form transport molecules that increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids. Do you know what avocados are jammed full of? Carotenoids! Even better, this increased absorption isn’t limited to the avocado’s own carotenoids. Recent research has shown that absorption of two important carotenoid antioxidants – lycopene and beta-carotene – increases significantly (like, 200-400% significantly) when avocado is added to a salad. Know what that ruby red grapefruit is rich in? Lycopene!!!
What did I tell ya? A putting few quality ingredients together = magic.
Grapefruit, one of the giants of the citrus family, is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also a great source of carotenoids; a pre-curser to vitamin A. Dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin B1 round out this nutritional powerhouse. Ruby red and pink grapefruits also contain lycopene (good for your prostates, fellas!). Grapefruits also contain pectin, which is a form of soluble fiber that has been shown to slow down the development of atherosclerosis and reduce blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Avocados are an extremely fatty fruit! Around 85% of the calories in an avocado come from fat, which is about 20 x higher than most fruit. However, about 65% of this fat is healthy monounsaturated fat, in particular oleic acid. Avocados also contain an incredible range of phytonutrients, and many vitamins and minerals. Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and potassium – more potassium than a banana even!
grapefruit and avocado salad
- 1 ruby red grapefruit
- 1 ripe avocado
- ½ a red chili or to taste, deseeded and finely diced
- olive oil use the best you have
- salt and pepper
- a few sprigs of fresh cilantro
- Start by peeling and segmenting the grapefruit. Work over a bowl as you’re cutting the segments so that you capture all of the grapefruit juices. You can just drop the segments into the bowl while you’re working and fish them out later.
- When you’ve separated all of the segments from the membrane, give the membrane a good squeeze to get all the rest of the juice out.
- De-seed and finely dice the chili. Pluck a few sprigs out of a bunch of cilantro.
- Cut the avocado in half, twist to separate the two halves, and whack the pit with the sharp side of a knife. you can twist the knife to loosen the pit and pull it out. Now nick the skin at the pointy tip with a sharp knife. Use your fingers to peel the skin off as if you were peeling like a banana. This technique is important because the greatest carotenoid concentrations are shown to be in the darker green flesh right next to the skin. We don’t want to lose this layer by cutting the skin off with a knife.
- Slice the avocado lengthwise into thin strips.
- Arrange the avocado slices and grapefruit segments onto one or two plates. Sprinkle with the diced chili, and a little salt and pepper.
- Spoon some of the reserved grapefruit juice overtop, followed by a healthy glug of good olive oil. Lastly, garnish with the cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.