Red chile pink grapefruit & fennel salad

The shortest day looms over us like — well, like the shortest day of the year. It’s Wednesday 21 December and the winter solstice takes place at 9:47 p.m, in case you were wonderfing. As it doesn’t involve a delivery of food, a crate of wine or a jumbo box of chocolates, I can’t be bothered. I won’t be celebrating as I’ll be in bed with the covers pulled over my head.

If you need me, drop me an email and I’ll get back in touch next May.

I mean, honestly, it’s all I can do these days to get out of bed and get dressed, let alone take a shower. While some smiley so-and-so’s think winter is ‘cosy’ I think it’s cold, dark and far too long. Surely I’m not the only one who gazes longingly at the drinks cabinet at 3:00 p.m.?

The only solace this solstice is the fact that the days will get longer after the 21st. Slowly — and I mean slowly– but surely night will get shorter. Yes, it’s at a snail’s pace but it’s something and frankly I’m grasping at straws these days (*reaches for variety box of chocolates and pops another in mouth*).

If winter is dragging for you too and a trip to Barbados isn’t in your bank account, then might I suggest a sunny salad? Pink grapefruit cooked quickly in honey and chile. Roasted fennel because apparently vegetables are ‘good’ for you. And a gentle scattering of pomegranate seeds and poppy seeds if you’re a show off. And for heaven’s sake have some pride and take a shower. Please.

Red chile pink grapefruit & roasted fennel salad

Serves 3-4

2 heads of fennel

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pink grapefruit

2 Tbsp. runny honey

1/2 tsp Chimayo blend New Mexico Red Chile powder


Pomegranate seeds (optional)

Poppy seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

Wash the fennel and remove any cute little fronds and set those aside. Aren’t they adorable? Slice the fennel in half lengthwise and then each half into four so you have eight wedges in total. Trim the core from the base slightly but leave enough so the fennel wedges stay together. Place in a baking pan, toss with the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until you can easily insert a knife into the base of a wedge. You can crank up the heat for the last few minutes to get some nice browning if you can be bothered.

While the fennel is cooking, prepare the grapefruit. Take a slice off the bottom of the grapefruit and then one from the opposite end. You can now stand the grapefruit on your chopping board without it rolling off the table, hitting the dog and creating a scene. Take a sharp knife and cut away the peel, starting from the top to the bottom and following the shape of the grapefruit. The aim is to remove the bitter white pith without taking away the juicy flesh. Got it?

Then take a smaller knife and make v-shaped incisions to remove each grapefruit section — again leaving the fibrous white bits behind. Do this over a small bowl so you can capture all of the juice. Set the grapefruit slices aside. To the grapefruit juice, add the honey and the chile powder along with a healthy sprinking of salt.

Heat a skillet and place the grapefruit sections with the liquid in the pan and cook for a few minutes, reducing the liquid and coating the grapefruit. If a grapefruit section or two breaks up, don’t fall apart yourself. It’s really not the end of the world.

Place the fennel on a platter, top with the grapefruit slices and the syrupy liquid. Gently scatter some pomegrate seeds on top (if using and of course you’re using pomegranate seeds — they’re a super food) and some poppy seeds. Finish off with those cute fennel fronds and hey, presto! — you’re done. Look smug, serve and then get back to bed. It’s bound to be dark outside.

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