A salad, is a salad, is a salad, right? Well, at some point in my life this may have been true, but today it is unequivocally wrong. When I was growing up, salad was made from pale iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, dressed with Thousand Island dressing. Do you remember those salads? I do, all too well! Today however, when I thumb through cookbooks or open food magazines, I feel a bit like Alice who fell through the looking glass! Salads are vivid and bursting with the flavour of exotic fruits, grains and vegetables. And the dressings! I could spend a lifetime sampling all of these scintillating dressings and never have to taste the same one twice!
Today’s salad is one that I found in “Plenty More”, by Yotam Ottolenghi, and made recently for a group of friends. Everyone agreed that it was more than “blog-worthy”. The dressing is a miracle to behold! Red grapefruit juice, sugar and chiles are reduced and then seasoned with tart sumac, which pairs perfectly with the grapefruit, watercress and basil.
I will be taking a big bowl of my salad over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday tomorrow. I think my buddies there will really enjoy this festival of flavours. If you haven’t joined us yet, I encourage you to do so at Angie’s blog – “The Novice Gardener”. While you are there, be sure to check out her wildly creative posts!
Pink Grapefruit and Sumac Salad
6 pink or red grapefruits (about 5 pounds)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 small dried red chile (use less if very hot)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sumac
½ medium red onion, very thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup)
2 or 3 small heads red Belgian endive, leaves separated and any large leaves cut in half on the diagonal (about 3 cups)
3 scant cups watercress leaves
2/3 cup basil leaves
Using a small, sharp knife, slice off the top and tail of 5 of the grapefruits. Cut down the sides of each grapefruit, following its natural line to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut between the membranes to remove the individual segments. Place in a colander to drain and gently squeeze any remaining juices into a small saucepan.
Squeeze enough juice from the last grapefruit to bring the juice in the pan up to 1 ¼ cups. Add the sugar and chile and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens and you have about 5 tablespoons left, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool down, then whisk in the olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and ¼ teaspoon salt.
To assemble the salad, put the grapefruit segments, onion, endive, watercress, and basil in a large bowl. Pour over ¾ of the dressing and toss gently. Add the remainder of the dressing if the salad seems dry. Serve immediately.