Cook: Pucker up – Tart, sweet grapefruit is a citrus wonder

Grapefruit has been on my mind since a recent road trip found me in a citrus grove farm stand sipping the best grapefruit juice I ever had. It was cold, almost slushy, and refreshingly tart on a hot day.

When I got home, I started learning more about the fruit and developing recipes that took advantage of its unique sweet and sour flavor. I learned that while the U.S. is the top grower of grapefruit, Israel is also an important resource and is the second-largest exporter of grapefruit in the world.

It was an Israeli scientist who found that eating a grapefruit (eshkoliyt in Hebrew) a day can help lower triglyceride levels. The researcher, Dr. Shela Gorinstein, found red grapefruit most effective. Grapefruit does interact with some medications, so you may want to check with your doctor before prescribing yourself a grapefruit.

Specimens of this citrus hybrid once known as the “forbidden fruit” vary in tartness, so adjust sweeteners to taste. Choose a firm fruit without soft or brown spots that seems heavy for its size.


Broiled Grapefruit with Apricot-Ginger Topping

Serves 4

2 medium-large red or pink grapefruit (about 12 oz. each)

1⁄2 cup apricot preserves

1 tsp. minced, seeded jalapeño

1 tsp. minced, fresh ginger

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄2 tsp. brown sugar, optional

Preheat broiler. Cut each grapefruit in half at its middle. Use grapefruit or paring knife to loosen around each segment. Put preserves in a small pan with jalapeño, ginger and salt. Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until preserves have softened and ingredients are well mixed.

Spoon apricot mixture evenly across top of the four grapefruit halves and spread so cut surfaces are covered. Sprinkle with brown sugar if desired. Place on broiler-safe tray and broil, watching closely until top is lightly browned and bubbly, 3-5 minutes.


Grilled Chicken with Grapefruit, Fennel and Olives

Serves 4


1⁄4 cup red or pink grapefruit juice

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄8 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄4 tsp. sugar

1⁄8 tsp. cumin

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 medium-large red or pink grapefruit (about 12 oz.)

1 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. minced fennel fronds (see note below)

1 cup fennel bulb, cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces

1⁄2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 Tbs. chopped pitted kalamata olives (about 8)

1⁄4 tsp. honey or agave syrup, or to taste

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make the marinade by combining grapefruit juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar and cumin. Pour over chicken and marinate 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Just before grilling, make the topping: Cut the peel and membrane off grapefruit and separate sections. Cut sections into 1/4-inch pieces, removing any white membrane or fibrous bits. Combine grapefruit pieces in a bowl with 1 tsp. minced fennel fronds, fennel bulb pieces, onion, olives, honey, salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir well and taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.

Heat grill or broiler. Remove chicken from marinade and grill or broil until done, turning occasionally. Top each portion with a quarter of the grapefruit-fennel-olive mixture. Sprinkle with remaining minced fennel as a garnish.

Note: Fennel fronds are the extremely thin, bright green leaves growing off the green stalks attached to the fennel bulb.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].