Mass-a-Peel: How to Pair Grapefruit
Fresh grapefruit delivers a burst of sunshine during the dead of winter. A bright, elegant addition to sweet and savory dishes year-round, it’s believed to be a hybrid of orange and pomelo. Its name comes from the fruit’s tendency to grow in tight clusters on the tree.
Don’t associate the fruit with the muddy, bitter taste of packaged grapefruit juice. If you cut away its bitter white pith, fresh grapefruit strikes the perfect balance between tangy lemon and honeyed orange. It’s a natural in cocktails (especially with gin, Tequila or Campari), but always use fresh-squeezed juice.
Some of its culinary affinities include fish and shellfish, goat cheese, Brussels sprouts, almond, avocado, rosemary and honey. Try a grapefruit beurre blanc with fish, or a salsa of minced grapefruit, red onion, avocado, jalapeño and cilantro with grilled chicken or tacos.
How to Pair Grapefruit
Look for crisp, citrusy white wines with herbal, floral or stone-fruit elements. Fresh, fruity Verdejos from Rueda have a pleasing, bitter finish that plays well with grapefruit. Briny Greek Assyrtikos exploit grapefruit’s affinity for salt. With savory dishes that call for a red wine, like salmon with a grapefruit-shallot reduction, look for a high-acid variety like Barbera. Its herbal and savory notes can bring out grapefruit’s sweeter side.
In Southern France, grapefruit juice is mixed with dry rosé to make a summer refresher.
For a delicious grapefruit cocktail, mix up a Paloma: equal parts blanco Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup and club soda.
The tangelo is a cross between the grapefruit and tangerine.
The Latin name for grapefruit is, appropriately, Citrus x paradisi.
The U.S. is the world’s No. 2 grapefruit grower. No. 1? China, which produces almost four times the U.S. output.
In 1964, Yoko Ono published a book titled Grapefruit (Wunternaum Press), which consists of drawings and “instructions” for the reader to create their own performance art (“step in all the puddles in the city”).
However, “Sauvignon Blanc is usually the best choice with grapefruit, due to its natural grapefruit aromas and flavors,” says Juan Gomez, MS, wine director of The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. “In particular, Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough, New Zealand, are the most expressive, exhibiting a sweet grapefruit quality as well as pungent herbal notes that complement grapefruit-based dishes.”
Click through to the next page for recipes and pairings for a four-layer grapefruit cake and grapefruit, avocado and crab salad.
Grapefruit, avocado, and crab are a combo that can do no wrong. If preferred, you can substitute bay shrimp or even smoked salmon for the crab.
- 1 red or pink grapefruit
- 1 avocado
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon honey or agave syrup
- 8 ounces fresh lump crab meat
- 1 head butter lettuce
Segment grapefruit by cutting ends off and then slicing peel off with a sharp knife, following the curve of the fruit and being sure to remove as much white pith as possible. Pull out skinless segments of grapefruit.
Pit and peel avocado, then slice into thin wedges. Toss gently with grapefruit segments (this will help prevent avocado from browning) and set aside. Squeeze all the juice from what’s left of the peeled grapefruit into a separate bowl (there should be 1–2 tablespoons) and whisk in the olive oil, honey and a large pinch of salt to create the dressing.
Tear lettuce into pieces and toss with dressing. Divide between 2 plates. Arrange grapefruit, avocado and crab on top. Serves 2.
Juan Gomez, MS, wine director of The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Florida, says, “This delicious Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon blend is partially fermented in French barriques. The Sauvignon Blanc’s citrus flavor and refreshing finish accentuates the lightness of the lettuce and grapefruit, while the well-rounded Sémillon and oak provide a touch of richness to enhance the creamy avocado and sweet crab.”
This is a riff on a legendary cake from the Brown Derby restaurant, an icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood (also, reputably, where the Cobb salad was invented). Be sure to thoroughly scrub the grapefruits under warm water before zesting, to remove any wax or other materials.
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs, separated
- ½ cup freshly squeezed white grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated white grapefruit zest
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 1 batch grapefruit cream cheese frosting (below)
Heat oven to 350°F. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, ¾ cup sugar and salt. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, grapefruit juice, zest, oil and yogurt, then gently fold into flour mixture until smooth and well blended, being careful not to overmix. In a third bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until white and foamy. Gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.
Working quickly, with a large silicone spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter (it’s O.K. if some small streaks of egg white remain). Transfer batter to cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry but with some crumbs stuck to it.
Leave cakes to cool on a rack. When cool enough to handle, run a spatula or knife around the edges to loosen, and remove cakes. If tops are uneven, level with a serrated knife.
Cut each cake in half horizontally to make four layers. Frost with a very thin layer of frosting between layers and a thicker one on top; frosting the sides is optional. Serves 8-10.
- 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed white grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated white grapefruit zest
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream, very cold
In large bowl, use electric mixer to beat cream cheese until very light and fluffy. In small bowl, mix juice, zest and sugar until very smooth, then gradually fold into cream cheese. In another bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form, then add to cream cheese mixture, beating until it’s fluffy and stiff peaks form.
Lovo 2014 “Fior d’Arancio” Moscato Giallo, Colli Euganei, Veneto, Italy
“This sweet, sparkling wine will both complement and contrast this dessert,” says Juan Gomez, MS, wine director of The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Florida. “Its natural acidity enhances the fresh citrus notes of the grapefruit while cutting through the velvety and creamy textures, while the wine’s luscious ripe fruit complements the rich frosting.”
- 1Crab, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad
- 2Four-Layer Grapefruit Cake