It is Spring, and the nasturtiums have leaves as big as lotus leaves and flowers of all hue peaking out from beneath.
This dish is an adaptation of an Ottolenghi recipe – a salad using pink grapefruit. I had a dozen pink grapefruit and this seemed an awesome opportunity to play with this recipe. The original recipe uses watercress, which is difficult to find here – its not common and is expensive. Not having the inclination or the time to drive the 30 mins it takes to get to a green grocer that does stock it, I substituted with produce from my garden. Into the salad went baby nasturtium leaves, yellow and red nasturtium flower petals and marigold flower petals. It was extraordinary.
This is a salad that, even in its original form, appears on paper like it won’t come together with Ottolenghi’s usual balanced and banging flavours. It feels like too much sumac. There is a chilli in the dressing. And crispy, sharp raw onion. But the flavours are massive and surprising! Bright, puckery grapefruit gently mixed with peppery watercress (in my case, nasturtium leaves), bitter Belgian endive, sweet leaves of basil basil, sharp red onion slices, and a tangy vinaigrette heavy with the lemony tangy sumac. Flavour clash? Not at all. A beautiful, balanced, juicy salad that is colourful and divine.
Pomelo can be used in place of the grapefruit. Pink Pomelo can be found over Summer in local Asian green groceries.
Similar recipes include Locquat Salad, Three Citrus Salad with Chilli, Ginger and Almond Salsa, Pink Grapefruit Salad with Avocado, and Pomelo and Green Mango Salad.
Pink Grapefruit and Sumac Salad with Nasturtium Leaves and Garden Flowers
6 pink or red grapefruit
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 small dried red chilli
4 tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sumac
½ medium red onion, very thinly sliced
2–3 small red Belgium Endive (sometimes called Chicory), leaves separated and any large leaves cut in half on an angle
8 – 10 small nasturtium leaves
nasturtium flowers and marigold flowers, washed and petals separated
20g basil leaves
Take five of the grapefruit. Using a small knife, slice off each top and tail. Now cut down the side of each grapefruit, following its natural line, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut between the membranes to remove the individual segments. Place in a colander to drain and measure the juice.
Squeeze enough juice from the last grapefruit to bring the juice in the pan up to 1.25 cups, place the juice in a small saucepan, and gently squeeze any remaining juices into the pan as well. Add the sugar and chilli and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens and you have about 5 Tblspns are left, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool down, then whisk in the olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and 0.25 tspn salt.
To assemble the salad, put the grapefruit segments, onion, belgium endive, nasturtium leaves, flower petals and basil in a large bowl. Pour over three-quarters of the dressing and toss very gently. Add the remainder of the dressing if the salad seems dry; otherwise, keep in the fridge for another leafy salad. Serve immediately.