Finally, to help you make something unexpected and special for Memorial Day, you'll find a recipe putting that great American cooking machine, the outdoor grill, to surprisingly sophisticated use. Delight your first guests of the season by making Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs with Asparagus, New Potatoes, and a Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette the centerpiece of your holiday feast. It perfectly complements a cold beer under the hot sun, the ideal way to welcome the summer days ahead.
Citrus Salad with Lemongrass, Toasted Almonds, and Mint
Makes 4 servings
When I was a kid, my mother would often purchase glass jars of orange and grapefruit sections from our local supermarket. Swimming in a tart citrus juice, along with maraschino cherries, this "salad" wasn't very good; my mouth still curls when I think of its too-bitter quality and chemical taste. Not only that, but suspended in their cloudy juice, the citrus sections looked to me and my sister like something that belonged on a shelf in our school's science classroom rather than in our refrigerator at home.
Nevertheless, I have fond memories of the times this salad evokes. So, for Mother's Day one year, I thought it would be fun to make my version of this dish part of a buffet brunch for my family. I was surprised at how well it came out. In fact, I now make it in large batches so I have leftovers for days to come--my own version of my mother's tradition.
Thinking Ahead: The salad can be made two or three days in advance of its first serving.
4 blood oranges
2 pink grapefruit
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped lemongrass (1 stalk)
2 medium Kaffir lime leaves
4 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon gently packed fresh mint, cut into chiffonade
Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut off and discard the peel and white pith from the clementines, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, and lime. Working over a small bowl to catch the juices, cut between the membranes to remove the segments. Put the segments in the bowl and squeeze any juice from the membranes. Discard any seeds. Pour 3/4 cup of the juice into a measuring cup and set it aside.
Thinly slice the kumquats and discard any seeds. Combine the kumquat slices with the citrus fruit segments. Cover and refrigerate.
In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, reserved citrus juice, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and remove from the heat. Set aside for about 30 minutes to infuse with flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until lightly and evenly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool and halt the cooking.
Divide the fruit sections among 4 rimmed soup bowls. Spoon 2 tablespoons of sauce over each serving, and garnish with the mint leaves and almonds.
Variations: Don't be discouraged if you don't have lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves; the salad will still be delicious without them.
If you'd like to make enough for a large group, or to have planned leftovers, the recipe multiplies very well.
Substitute oranges for the tangerines or clementines, if necessary.
Excerpted from Alfred Portale's Twelve Seasons Cookbook by Alfred Portale with Andrew Friedman Copyright© 2000 by Alfred Portale with Andrew Friedman. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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