It has been hot and steamy in Heidelberg so I am back to making salads again, especially simple ones that allow me to work and watch the World Cup without too much interruption.

This salad presents an unusual list of ingredients, but I assure you it is refreshing and delicious.  If it is a little too adventurous for you, or you happen to not like some of the ingredients, I offer up a few swap possibilities.

The key players here are grapefruit, basil, feta and walnuts.  It is both creamy and rich due the walnuts and feta and refreshing and juicy due to the basil and grapefruit.  The basil is pureed into a lovely dressing, which can also be used on any salad or as an excellent accompaniment to a fried or poached egg.

I hope you give it a try!

A Salad of Unusual Suspects

  • grapefruit (remove peel and pith and slice into disks or segments)*
  • crumbled feta (use a good quality feta here, preferably one from sheep’s milk)
  • mixed greens (arugula, bibb lettuce or spinach would be nice)
  • chopped walnuts (toasted if you like)
  • some basil dressing (recipe below)
  • optional: chopped kalamata olives, crème of balsamic vinegar**

Prepare your greens and spread them out on the plates.  Put a few disks or segments of grapefruit on top as well as the nuts and feta.  Pour some basil dressing over top and a few squiggles of the crème of balsamic, if you’ve decided to use it.  Make sure all ingredients are cold for an extra refreshing dish.

* If grapefruit is too bitter for you try an orange or a blood orange.  If you want something even sweeter, peaches would be great.  Better yet, try the peaches grilled!
** I found the salad lacked a salty or briny component, so I think I will add some olives next time.  I happened to have some crème of balsamic vinegar, which added a lovely touch and the sweetness offset the bitter grapefruit.  If you don’t have this, you can make your own by boiling down some balsamic vinegar until it thickens.

Basil Dressing

  • a good handful of fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped
  • squeeze of half a lemon (or 1 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar)
  • 1 scant tsp. of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ c. of olive oil
  • 1 minced shallot.
  • salt and pepper

Puree all the ingredients in a chopper or blender.  Taste and adjust quantities to your liking.  Note the basil really takes center stage here.  In pesto, one often finds that the garlic and oil really stand out, but this dressing just has a simple basil taste with a little kick from the mustard.