This year on my birthday I became the proud owner of my very own blow torch. Since then it has been somewhat of a quest to find ingredients that would benefit from a being set on fire. Grapefruit, the pink fleshed variety, is particularly satisfying as not only does it taste like sunshine but it just looks so pretty. Having made this a few times now I have to confess that the use of the blow torch is not strictly necessary and the grapefruit can be caramelised just as effectively using a non-stick frying pan. That said, if you do have a blow torch then the joy of watching the sugar bubble as the blue flame passes over the pink flesh is not to be missed.
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 30g golden caster sugar
- 1 bulb fennel
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 medium avocado
- 20 leaves basil
- 120g watercress
- 30g feta (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To begin you need to remove all the skin and pith from the grapefruit. Using a very sharp knife slice off around 2 cm from the top and bottom of the fruit. Do this over a plate so as to collect up any escaping juice so you can add this to the salad later. Then, slicing from top to bottom remove all the skin and pith from the outside of the fruit. When all the skin and pith is removed cut the fruit crossways into four slices.
- Spread the sugar over a plate or chopping board. Drop the grapefruit slices onto the sugar so that one side is well covered. If using a blow torch place the grapefruit slices sugar side up on a heat resistant plate. Blast with the blow torch until you see the sugar start to bubble and brown, moving the flame across the grapefruit until all the sugar is caramelised. Alternatively place a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the slices of grapefruit sugar side down. As the sugar begins to caramelise it will bubble out from under the slices. You want to leave the slices until the bubbling sugar is a caramel brown. Remove from the pan using a pair of tongs.
- Slice around 5 mm off the base of the fennel bulb. Cut the fronds off fennel where they meet the bulb and remove any damaged outer layers. Cut the bulb vertically into very thin slices.
- In a non-stick pan, toast the pine nuts over a medium-high heat for about a minute until they start to brown. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Halve and peel the avocado, remove the stone and cut into chunks. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces.
- To assemble, place the watercress in a mound on the serving plate. Arrange the fennel across the top and, if using, crumble over the feta. Arrange the grapefruit slices on top, sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and scatter over the basil. Mix the grapefruit juice with the walnut oil and pour over the salad. Season and serve.
P.S Perfect accompanied with a glass of pink fizz