The Cinderella of the Citrus
“The only gymnastics I do is the manual pressing of grapefruits.”
⏱ 4 MINUTES READING
HISTORY AND VARIETIES
The fruits belonging to the citrus family carry with them a beautiful mythological tale, which partly explains the origin of the name: the fruit of citrus, in fact, is called hesperidium, while the hesperides are its essential oils. The terms originate from the Greek myth of the Hesperides, the narration that sees as protagonists Gea, the earth goddess, a noble marriage, nymphs with a splendid voice, the labors of Hercules and a sleepless snake.
Citrus fruits belong to the Rutaceae family. The citrus subfamily includes three genera: Citrus, Fortunella, Poncirus Trifoliata. But three genera and eighteen defined species cannot include all the natural mutations, and the ones created by man, which have given rise to distinct and “trendy” species.
RECENT AND PRECIOUS
Grapefruit origins from Barbados and it was introduced in Europe very late, between the 1960s and 1970s. It is an ancient hybrid and from mutation to mutation it has come to the size and variety that we know. Thanks to the modern nutraceuticals of grapefruit, the very high nutritional value has been discovered: it is not only rich in vitamin C and mineral salts, low in calories, not much sugary and decidedly thirst-quenching.
The phytonutrients with beneficial properties, such as polyphenols, limonoids and lycopene, among others, are transforming it into a super-food that can be used in the daily prevention routine, given that seasonality makes it available from November to May.
As we said, the fruit is recent and also it is its use in the kitchen, declined by mimicking the aromatic characteristics common to all the others citrus fruits: fruity and tropical notes, the slightly hinted bitterness given by the herbaceous and wood notes and the its true distinctive note: the sulphurous and musk character that make it unique.
Niki Segnit, in his “The Flavour Thesaurus” (Bloomsbury, 2010) defines grapefruit as “a sleepy old uncle” and inserts it into citrus flavours, together with the best known citrus fruits, as it is obvious, and in the company of ginger and cardamom, characterized by wood, grass (more or less fresh) and spicy notes.
Thus, it is possible to work in the kitchen, and not only, by transforming the citrus Cinderella into a beautiful swan. The juice, to be drunk in purity in the morning, becomes interesting in the creation of smoothies and centrifuges, combined with equally fresh and sulphurous ingredients, such as apple (better the crunchy and green ones), asparagus and papaya, accentuating the fresh notes with aromatic herbs such as mint and woody ones with cinnamon.
Juice and pulp easily become chutneys and jellies to be further customized thanks to the use of ginger and cardamom, to pair dishes that recall the gastronomic customs of the East and the Middle East. Always juice and pulp become fundamental ingredients to characterize marinades and raw sauces to enhance meats such as pork and fatty fish.
Clean wedges can liven up unique dishes, such as salads made with green leaves, legumes and steamed cereals. Finally, a good bartender will know how to combine grapefruit juice with spirits, even peaty, for cocktails to pair raw fish dishes.
A kaleidoscope of possibilities, therefore, with one last thought: yellow grapefruits are less sugary than pink ones.
Anna Maria Pellegrino
Cook e Foodblogger
ALMOST A TROUT GRAVLAX
A proposal that you can decline as main dish or, in smaller quantities, as an appetizer. The fat of the trout can be balanced with the chermoula sauce. The delicately marinated fish pulp can be reduced to tartare and served with a crunchy fennel salad, which blends well with the freshness of grapefruit giving it the hint of anise.
DOSES for 4 people
COURSE: main dish/starter
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes + rest
500 g Regina di San Daniele
2 pink grapefruit
basil leaves for decoration
evo oil and salt flakes
freshly ground white pepper
pink pepper berries in brine
rye bread and salted butter for the pairing
> FOR CHERMOULA SAUCE:
2 pink grapefruits
1 small bunch of coriander and 1 of parsley
1 red onion
1 tea spoon of cumin powder
1 tea spoon of coriander powder
1 spoon of smoked or sweet paprika
3 dl of extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper and salt
FOR THE SAUCE: Wash and dry the parsley and coriander, including the stems, and chop them finely with a knife. Finely chop the onion as well.
Peel the grapefruits and blend them with the spices. In a bowl, mix the spiced grapefruit cream with the herbs and onion. Season with salt and pepper.
FOR THE TROUT: Cover the trout fillet with the chermoula sauce, protect with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 ‘.
Remove the sauce, slice the fillet and serve the slices of trout with toasted bread embellished with a little salted butter and the remaining chermula sauce.
The marinated trout can be served in tartare: chop the pulp, season it with a drizzle of oil and pepper. In the meantime, peel the grapefruits, slice the fennel with the mandoline, season it with a grapefruit citronette and create the salad, spreading it over the trout tartare made with the help of a pastry cutter.
WARM SALAD WITH PANCETTA, BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND GRAPEFRUIT
Do you want to invite your nutritionist to dinner but don’t want to give up the good scent of bacon? Then follow the recipe step by step and you will see that you will become his culinary consultant. Because if it is true that food is our medicine, it doesn’t have to be so bitter! Combine the dish with boiled cereals for a complete proposal.
DOSES for 4 people
COURSE: main dish
PREPARATION TIME: 20 minutes
COOKING TIME: 10 minutes
200 g pancetta tesa Bertolin
80 g baby spinach
100 g Brussel sprouts
100 g shallots
freshly ground black pepper
a few leaves of parsley
extra virgin olive oil
Julienne the bacon, peel the grapefruits, clean the sprouts and shallots, which you will steam cook for 5 ‘. Create a citronette with the juice of a grapefruit, oil, pepper and a little salt.
In the meantime, make the bacon crunchy, set it aside but keep it warm. Golden the steamed vegetables in the fragrant fat that will remain in the pan, blending with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and finally add the crispy bacon.
Season the baby spinach and mix half of the grapefruit already filleted, arrange in individual bowls, continue with the rest of the hot ingredients and finish with the remaining grapefruit. Decorate with a few parsley leaves and serve immediately.
BAKED CHEESECAKE WITH PINK GRAPEFRUIT CURD
There is no trip to New York that does not include a delicious taste like that of an excellent slice of cheesecake, paired with coloured toppings. In our version we combine grapefruit curd with cinnamon scent, for an unusual combination that will enhance the intense taste of the cheeses used for the filling.
DOSES for 8 people
PREPARTION TIME: 40 minutes + rest
COOKING TIME: 1 hour and 20 minutes
> FOR THE CHEESECAKE (base of 18 cm):
160 g plain biscuits
80 g melted butter
250 g Robiola di Roccaverano DOP fresca
250 g ricotta di pecora Il Fiorino
3 organic eggs
3 pink grapefruits
150 g brown beet sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tea spoon cinnamon powder
> FOR THE CURD:
2 pink grapefruits: 100 ml juice and the zest
3 organic eggs
150 g white sugar
100 g butter, at room temperature
1 spoon potato flour
1 pinch of salt
FOR THE CURD: Beat the eggs in a bowl. Sifts the potato flour and melt it in the grapefruit juice. Cubes the soft butter and melt it over the heat, combine the eggs, sugar, juice and grapefruit zest and continue stirring until the cream thickens. Away from the heat, then, mix with a whisk to obtain a smooth cream.
FOR THE CAKE: Bring the static oven to 160 °C, grease or line the mould with parchment paper. Blend the biscuits, add the previously melted butter stirring with a fork, pour into the mould, leveling well and transfer to the freezer for 20 ‘.
Obtain the juice from one grapefruit and fillet the other ones, letting them drain well. Beat the eggs, mix the vanilla and cinnamon with the sugar. Mix the cheeses with the grapefruit juice using a wooden spoon, add the egg and spice mixture and pour everything into the mould.
Bake for at least 1 hour and 10 ‘. Remove from the oven, let it cool on a grill and let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Before serving, cover with a generous layer of curd and decorate with the grapefruit fillets.