Winter months call for a different type of salad. Lettuce isn't really in season, and it's hit or miss on quality. Plus, I don't know about you, but I'm often just not feeling those leafy greens as much in the winter, delicious as they may be! So I've reinvented salad using some more seasonal produce, and a whole lot of flavor! Broiled Grapefruit Fennel Salad with an incredibly easy Honey Mint Vinaigrette is quick enough for a busy weeknight, yet feels fancy enough for company. Not to mention it is DROP. DEAD. GORGEOUS.
Although optional, broiling the grapefruit mellows out its sometimes sour quality, and caramelizes the sugar for a deeper, richer taste. Blood oranges complement the colors and flavors of the grapefruit, and the fennel adds a delightfully light, licoricy crunch that really rounds out the salad. And that honey mint vinaigrette is perfectly sweet, minty, and vinegary to pull it all together. LOVE!
How to Make Grapefruit Fennel Salad
First, you want to choose a red grapefruit for this. To me, the red ones are sweeter, and that's what you want for this salad. Also, I chose blood oranges, because they're in season now, and are gorgeous next to the grapefruit. If they are out of season, or you can't get them where you are, regular oranges are just fine.
To make this simple salad, you'll want to cut the peel and pith off the grapefruit and blood oranges with a knife. You can certainly peel them the "normal" way, but your presentation won't be quite as colorful (may not matter to you!), and the remaining pith can be bitter. This first two and a half minutes of this video shows you how (only remove the peel; don't cut out the segments as in the video)!
Next you'll slice up your grapefruit and oranges. About ½ inch slices will do. Set the oranges aside, and place the grapefruit slices on a baking tray lined with parchment. Spritz them with a little cooking spray. Broil them about 6 inches from the flame for about 5-10 minutes, until you can see brown spots starting to appear. Much longer than that, and they'll be mush! Now allow them to cool completely while you finish the rest of the salad.
Remove the fronds from the fennel bulb. That's the top part that has all the wispy greens. Keep those if you want to use them for garnish. Slice the fennel thin, or shred it using a mandolin. Fennel is pretty crunchy, so you can get away with relatively thin slices. I wouldn't go any thicker than ¼ inch, but thinner is fine.
Now for the vinaigrette! Whisk all the ingredients together to combine. This can be made ahead of time a day or two. The flavor gets better anyway!
You're ready to arrange the salad on a large plate. However you like is perfect. Garnish with the fennel fronds if you like. Drizzle with the vinaigrette just before serving. Enjoy this Broiled Grapefruit Fennel Salad and all of winter's bounty!
Is Grapefruit Good For Your Heart?
First, if you are on heart medications (or any medications), check to make sure it's not one that grapefruit should be avoided with. To learn more, you may want to read Grapefruit and Heart Medications. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with your doctor or pharmacist.
Grapefruit May Lower Cholesterol
That being said, grapefruit does seem to have some heart healthy qualities. In one small study, including grapefruit pectin (a type of fiber) daily was shown to decrease cholesterol levels significantly. While pectin from many sources seems to show this same, or similar, result, this demonstrates that grapefruit can certainly be included as part of a heart healthy diet. Grapefruit juice would likely not have the same effect, as the fiber has been removed from it.
A later study compared different types of pectin and their cholesterol lowering properties to each other, and found apple and citrus (but not orange) pectin to be most effective at lowering cholesterol. While the studies aimed at 15 grams of pectin daily, the authors also found benefit with as little as 6 grams per day. For reference, the edible portion of a grapefruit contains about 7.5 grams of pectin, and a medium sized apple has 1-2 grams of pectin.
Grapefruit May Lower Blood Pressure
Similarly, grapefruit's effect on blood pressure has been the topic of intense interest over the last few decades. One meta-analysis of 3 randomly controlled trials found a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 2.43 mmHg on average, however, the authors note that there was no established dose of grapefruit among the trials. That means we can't really say how much grapefruit one would need to eat to obtain that benefit.
Another study, in which participants consumed ½ grapefruit, or grapefruit juice equal in weight daily, found no statistical decrease in blood pressure. A later study observed a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure, but not overall blood pressure with the addition of a half a grapefruit at each meal daily, for 6 weeks. Much more research will be needed in this area to fully answer the question.
In the meantime, unless grapefruit interferes with a medication you take, there's no harm in eating grapefruit if you like it, and it may even be beneficial!
Broiled Grapefruit & Fennel Salad with Honey Mint Vinaigrette
This refreshing salad is perfect for those long winter months! A little sweet and a little tangy; it's a match made in heaven. Broiling the grapefruit first mellows out its sour tendencies, but you can skip that step if you're short on time!
- 3 medium Red Grapefruit
- 3 Blood Oranges
- 1 large Fennel Bulb fronds removed and reserved for garnish
- Cooking spray
For the Honey Mint Vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced Fresh Mint
- 2 teaspoon Honey
- ½ teaspoon ground Ginger
Preheat broiler, with rack placed 6-8 inches below the flame.
Cut the peel and pith (white, bitter part of the peel) off the grapefruit and blood oranges.
Slice both the grapefruit and oranges about ½ inch thick. Set the orange slices aside.
Place the grapefruit slices on a parchment lined baking sheet, and spritz with cooking spray to coat.
Broil for 5-10 minutes, being mindful it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven/broiler and cool completely.
While the grapefruit is broiling, slice the fennel thin; about ¼ inch or less (you may even prefer to shred it).
Make the vinaigrette: combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.
Arrange grapefruit, orange, and fennel slices on a plate, and drizzle with Honey Mint Vinaigrette.
Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired.