Cool, clean salads may not seem appropriate for March, when the weather wobbles between the tentative spring rays of sunshine and the stubborn gray remnants of winter. But maybe that's why this salad is perfectly timed. You can apply the cliches "less is more" and "what you see is what you get," but why not view this bright salad as a cleanse -- a refreshing and nourishing plate of unpretentious and seasonally inspired ingredients, pure in their own right, and deliciously united with an uncomplicated splash of olive oil and lime juice.
As with most simple dishes, each ingredient and how it's presented counts. There are three important techniques to assembling the ingredients in this salad. The first is to briefly soak the onions, which helps to extract their pungent sulfuric juices and allows their natural sweetness to shine. The second is to supreme the grapefruit, or to remove the membrane from each segment. It may sound fussy, but the membrane is bitter and relatively tough. When it's removed, the sweetness of the grapefruit is heightened, and you are left with a supple and glistening segment of pink citrus.
Finally, don't skimp on the fresh herbs for garnish. You can use all of the herbs listed below, or simply one or two, but don't hold back on showering the plate with a generous amount -- they will add a crisp, bright and aromatic garnish to this healthy and cleansing salad.
Shrimp, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 large (16/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large Hass avocado
2 pink grapefruits
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Combine the onions and the 1/4 cup lime juice in a small bowl. If the onions are not submerged, add just enough cold water or more lime juice to cover. Let stand for 15 minutes, then drain and blot the onions dry with a kitchen towel.
Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and black pepper. Arrange in one layer in the skillet and cook until brightly colored on both sides and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Halve and pit the avocado, and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.
Cut away the skin and pith of the grapefruits. With a paring knife, cut away the membranes and seed the segments.
On individual serving plates, arrange a spiral of avocado. Top with the grapefruit segments, onions and shrimp.
Whisk the 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Combine the herbs in a separate bowl. Drizzle each salad with some of the dressing and generously garnish with the herbs. Serve immediately.
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