Ingredient SpotLight

February is National Grapefruit Month. If the thought of grapefruit makes you think of breakfast or sour puss faces, it's time to start thinking outside the box. Or perhaps away from the breakfast table! Grapefruit, like all citrus fruits, is a highly versatile ingredient that brings freshness, zest and brightness to the dishes its used in. While the peel, or zest, of a grapefruit is a bit too strong for most cooking (although do consider candying the peel for a special sweet-tart treat), the juicy membranes it holds within are a great source of vitamin C and an excellent way to add both sweetness and tang to a dish.

There are over 30 varieties of grapefruit grown and cultivated in the United States, but the most popular varieties are Duncan and Marsh grapefruits (which have yellow pulp) and Ruby and Webb grapefruits (which have pink pulp). Grapefruit can be readily crossed with other citrus fruits to create new hybrids. A tangelo is merely a grapefruit flower which has been pollinated with mandarin orange pollen. Grapefruit itself is a hybrid -- the result of a cross between a sweet orange and the pummelo.

Grapefruit is very low calorie and therefore, often included as a prized diet food. However, as a result, it's also garnered the stigma associated with diets, which are often seen as boring and tasteless. So this month, I'm here to prove that impression completely wrong with a couple recipes featuring grapefruit and seafood -- a match made in heaven.

Citrus Marinated Shrimp

This dish is reminiscent of a sweet and sour dish with a hint of heat. Those fond of the flavors of Asia will find themselves making it again and again.
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large red pepper, slivered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

In a medium bowl, combine grapefruit juice, garlic, cilantro or parsley, ketchup, honey, red pepper flakes and salt. Add the shrimp and stir. Allow to marinate 20 minutes, turn shrimp once. Drain the shrimp and reserve the marinade, combining it with cornstarch. Meanwhile, prepare rice according to package directions. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and saute 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp begins to turn orange, just beginning to caramelize. Add red pepper, celery and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until shrimp is just cooked through and sauce has thickened slightly. Add grapefruit sections and heat 30 seconds. Garnish with fresh sprigs of cilantro or parsley. Serve over rice.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Black-Eyed Pea and Crab Salad With Grapefruit

  • 1 1/2 cups black eyed peas
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 pound fresh lump crab meat
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 3 whole scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint or tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chervil
  • 1 cup Grapefruit Vinaigrette -- see recipe below
  • 4 whole ruby grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 8 whole fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Drain the black eyed peas and season with salt. Set aside. In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium high heat until all the fat is rendered. Transfer the bacon to a large mixing bowl and add the crab meat, vegetables, peas and herbs. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Combine the salad with the vinaigrette. Mound the tossed salad on a large serving platter, leaving at least 2 inches around the edge of the platter. Arrange the grapefruit sections around the salad and garnish the grapefruit sections with the cilantro sprigs.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 7 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

In a small bowl whisk together grapefruit juice, vinegar, peanut oil, sesame oil, and mustard. Chill slightly before using.

  • Yields: 1 cup
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes