Weekend Fare: Pasta & Salad

I’m not sure I would serve these dishes together but individually they are quite good. Citrus is delicious used in savory ways – it adds freshness and acidity.

This lemon pasta is very lemony. I used a lemon pasta which made it even more tart. We enjoyed it – I’ve given a couple of ideas of ways to make it more of a main dish at the bottom of the recipe.

LEMON CREAM PASTA
(adapted from Rachael Ray)

Salt
1 lb. pasta (spaghetti, fuseli – whatever you prefer – I used a lemon pasta)
3 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 lemons, zested and juiced
3/4 c, heavy cream
1 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. fresh basil, very thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and drop the spaghetti into the pot.

Heat a large deep skillet over low heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.

When the pasta has been cooking about 5 minutes, add lemon juice, a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta and the cream to the garlic and oil. Raise heat a bit to bring sauce to a bubble.

Drain pasta when it still has a good bite to it, al dente. Add lemon zest and half of the cheese to the cream sauce. Season the sauce with salt, to taste. Add pasta to pan and turn off heat. Toss the pasta with sauce a minute or 2, allowing it time to soak up the sauce.

Top the plates of pasta or platter with remaining cheese, parsley and basil.

*This would be excellent with broccoli and chicken added. Just reduce the amount of pasta to 1/2 lb. and cook 1 head of broccoli florets with the pasta. Drain and toss in sauce along with 1 – 1  1/2 c. chopped cooked chicken. Toss and serve.

My youngest son loved the avacado and grapefruit – even with the dijon dressing. We really like this salad – the original recipe does not call for it to be served on the lettuce but we much prefered it served over greens. Overall a delightful and unexpected combination of flavors. It’s a beautiful salad to serve as well.

GRAPEFRUIT AVOCADO SALAD
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 Tb. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
4 ripe Hass avocados
2 lg. red grapefruits
1/2 lb. mixed greens or romaine hearts

Place the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Before serving, cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the seeds, and carefully peel off the skin. Cut each half into 8 slices. Toss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown. Use a large, sharp knife to slice the peel off the grapefruits (be sure to remove all the white pith), then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments.

Arrange greens or lettuce on a large platter then top with the avocado and grapefruit slices. Spoon the vinaigrette on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

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Market Fresh: Grapefruit

Walk into the supermarket just now and you will see piles of large, round, yellow “softballs” stacked in pallets or on display at the end of the citrus aisle. Grapefruit — one of the quintessential winter fruits.

I distinctly remember my mother getting up morning after morning to cut grapefruit, carefully winding her knife around each little section, so we could sit down to breakfast with half a grapefruit each. I also remember the day we watched a guest take a whole grapefruit and carefully peel the skin away to reveal a beautiful, pink ball that could be plucked apart and eaten like a peeled orange. It opened a whole new realm of grapefruit eating for us.

Nowadays I am too lazy to do as my mother did and I just cut our grapefruit in handy little wedges for easy eating:

Don’t just get stuck in a rut though. Think outside the morning breakfast bowl. Think salads, desserts, juice, and cake. I’ve sectioned grapefruit and added it to spinach salad instead of an apple or mandarin oranges. Squeeze the leftover juice to replace lemon juice in the salad dressing. Recipes for grapefruit cake can be found, and of course one can always squeeze the fruits to make juice.

For a delicious and healthy dessert, why not try this salad?

ORANGE AND PINEAPPLE PLATED SALAD
(from www.bbcgoodfood.co.uk)

1 medium pineapple
2 pink grapefruit
1/4 c. sugar
small bunch mint, leaves only

Use a sharp knife to top and tail the pineapple, then stand it upright on a chopping board. With the sharp knife, carve the skin away and discard. Rest the pineapple on its side, then cut into wafer-thin slices. Repeat with the grapefruit, cutting away the peel and pith, then cut into slices. Arrange the fruit on a serving platter, catching any juices, and set aside.

Using a pestle and mortar, pound the sugar and mint together until completely blended. Scatter the mint sugar over the fruit and serve on its own or with yogurt (preferable Greek yogurt).

NOTE: I loved this salad. I’m also eager to try substituting lime zest for the mint and also trying it sometime with shards of crystalized ginger over top, or even a little fresh ginger grated into the sugar.