Now this is a slightly mad concoction. I admit that the flavour combination of feta, basil, tarragon, lemongrass, ginger and a Thai dressing is pretty much far fetched, if not even slightly psychotic!
But somehow it works… I actually made this salad with garlicky prawns for a different project I’m currently working on. It’s actually taking so much of my time that I feel slightly bad about neglecting the blog. So I decided to revamp the salad and make a blog version – with feta! Why the heck feta? Because I had a nice chunk of feta cheese lingering in my fridge, sad not to be used. Because I remembered this lovely watermelon and haloumi salad I had last summer, and how the sweet fruit and salty cheese really worked together. Because I thought “what the heck, let’s just try it”. And, weirdly enough, it worked.
Also, I really think it’s about time to let some sunshine and summery vibes into this grey and hellishly cold winter. I’ve pretty much had enough of freezing and just eating comfort food. Yes, I’ve been pretty much surviving on stews, pies, soups and other hearty meals lately – and who’s to blame me! Still, I feel like it’s also sometimes a good idea to let the sun shine through your belly – in this case these flavours remind me of Thailand, and convey happiness.
You may notice that I used both basil and tarragon in this dish. Now, that actually has a reason: I find it very hard to get hold of Thai basil! Unless I happen to be in Chinatown, it’s virtually impossible to buy this lovely herb. So, I decided to recreate the flavours myself – by mixing two ingredients commonly found in supermarkets: basil and tarragon. It’s incredible, but it somehow works! Thai basil has got this slightly aniseedy note, which I recreated by using tarragon. It may not be real authentic, and I’d still use Thai basil whenever I could, but this does it for now.
Anyway, I hope you give this slightly crazy salad a try! And do let me know what you think – I have a feeling it will be like Marmite, you either love it or hate it…
Asian Grapefruit Salad
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp cashew nuts
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks
1 handful fresh basil
1 handful fresh tarragon
For the dressing:
60ml lime juice
4 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp + 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
Peel the grapefruits, separate all the segments and carefully peel the skin off them so that you don’t break all the flesh. Divide between four plates.
Heat a frying pan, add the desiccated coconut and toast until it turns golden and fragrant. Do the same with the cashews. Put into a little bowl and set aside.
Cut the bottom off the lemongrass stalks, remove the outer layer and cut into fine slices. Peel the shallots and finely slice. Remove the seeds from the chilli and finely slice.
Crumble the feta over the grapefruit, sprinkle some lemongrass, shallots and chilli over each portion, followed by a few basil and tarragon leaves.
Prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Drizzle a few spoonfuls over each salad and sprinkle with toasted coconut and cashews.