Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Good

Spring is officially here, and although I used to hardly bat an eyelash at its coming, this year I am pretty excited.

I'm not sure how it is possible for someone not to like springtime, but I do have some plausible theories, the first of which is due to the fact that I live on the west coast. The line between winter and spring has always been kind of fuzzy. It is mild and rainy in winter, and mild and rainy in spring. Another theory for my past non-excitement: although spring brings soft, gentle cherry blossoms, it also brings final exams and job searching simultaneously. I mean seriously, that is reason enough to make anyone in their right mind lose interest in the coming of another season. My final reason for my dislike of spring: no good holidays (which for me, is often indicative of how I feel about a season). Yes, there is Easter, but Good Friday has always seemed kind of depressing and I kind of loathe chocolate (no big deal...). Anyway, all this goes to say that I used to not like spring all that much, but my-oh-my how times have changed.

I can't exactly pin point when I allowed my love of the season to finally blossom, but I imagine it was somewhere between kicking my worrying habit in the butt and my discovery of Cadbury Mini Eggs. Not to mention, I'm about ready to start planting seeds in the vegetable garden, which has me daydreaming of fresh vegetables all day long. And speaking of vegetables, I am beyond excited about the arrival of springtime food. The way I see things, we have officially transitioned out of the heavy/hearty/complex autumn and winter foods and are now entering into edibles that are are lighter, fresher, and simpler. This is the time of year where an array of simple salads present themselves as possibilities for light lunches and dinners.
I'm taking it upon myself share one such a salad with you today.

So how about an avocado and grapefruit salad to jump start your spring?
Uh-huh, that's what I thought.

Last week we found ourselves in mother nature's good graces when a handful of 17 degree, sunshiny days presented themselves to us folk in the Fraser Valley. When my dad set to work in the kitchen on his practically famous thin-crust pizza one evening, I felt that a special salad was in order- one that would show spring the fine welcome it deserves. We had some grapefruit and ripe avocados kicking around on the counter and I found the perfect recipe within the pages of Bon Appetit. And so I set to work, slicing, segmenting, and arranging bits of avocado, slices of grapefruit, and crisp leaves of butter lettuce. The finished product was a thing of beauty, and I am proud to report that every little bit was eaten, despite the allure of another slice of homemade pizza. It looked and tasted exactly as I imagine spring would: bright, fresh, light, and awfully pretty.

I plan on enjoying spring from now on, no matter what it brings with it. The world is waking up again, and after a long, cold winter, that most definitely is worth celebrating.

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2009

This salad is super beautiful and deceptively fancy, considering how simple it really is.
I used the white grape juice/apple cider vinegar method, opposed to tracking down and using the verjus.

2 tablespoons verjus* or 3 1/2 teaspoons white grape juice and 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/4 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Fine sea salt
8 large butter lettuce leaves
3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, thinly sliced, rinsed under cold water
3 large Ruby Red grapefruits all peel and white pith cut away, segments cut from between membranes

*Milder than vinegar, verjus is a tart juice made from unripe grapes, available at specialty food stores.

To Prepare

Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in both oils. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange lettuce on platter. Top with avocado and grapefruit, then dressing.

Yield: Serves 8, as a side.


  1. We never had winter this year, and if we did, long and cold are the last words I would describe it with!

  2. Yeah, you are right. I was thinking of changing it to long, wet winter. But we didn't even really have that.

    I guess I'm speaking on behalf of the rest of Canada!
    Also, I heard New York got their fair share of snow storms this winter...!
    Somewhere out there (that isn't Vancouver), there was a winter that was very long and cold indeed!

  3. Hey, what do you think an ok substitute for walnut oil would be?

  4. kyran! don't be mean. i'll totally beat you up, or get ben to. or emilie actually would be better.

  5. You would be fine using olive oil!


  6. I made it for Easter lunch today...such a hit! I had to modify it a bit for what we had in our fridge (ie onion instead of shallot, extra virgin olive oil instead of walnut oil, and I added a bit more lemon juice, and a teaspoon of sugar) but it was still a perfect combination of smooth avocado and tart grapefruit... parfait darlin, parfait.