My mother is a fantastic cook. Everything she makes is delicious and if something isn’t going well she knows just what to do to correct it. It is hard to find a measuring cup or spoon in her kitchen; she has a sort of cooking sixth sense and she rarely uses recipes. I am the exact opposite and I’m sure that means I’m not a natural cook. I love a recipe, love measuring and rarely veer off course the first couple of times I’m making something. We were at my moms house this past weekend. As usual, before we arrived my mom called to go over the menu for Saturday night. Saturday wasn’t a holiday and we weren’t having additional people over. No, it was just a regular Saturday…doesn’t everyone decide what they will cook 2 days ahead of time? I’m pretty sure they don’t. I had just seen Giada prepare what looked like a great salad on T.V. and suggested it, as part of the meal, to my mom. Shockingly she too agreed it sounded interesting. It was a Caramelized Onion and Grapefruit Salad and was featured on an episode of Giada at Home called Light and Delicious.

My mother purchased the grapefruits and the onions (we used Vidalias). I picked up the remaining ingredients. Right before we were starting to cook we realized the dishwasher was malfunctioning. We were tempted to scrap plans to cook a big meal without it but we went ahead, having all ingredients on hand, and the dishwasher ended up working. I will point out that this is not an afterthought, 5 minute salad. This salad takes a good 30 minutes, there’s chopping and cooking involved, but I think you’ll agree it’s worth it. I started off with the onions (and did find a set of measuring spoons). I wouldn’t have thought to caramelize them with balsamic vinegar but it made them sweet. I would use these onions as a side dish on their own even if I wasn’t making the whole salad.

As for the salad, you will need to section your grapefruits. I was apprehensive about this but a sharp knife really makes it easy. The hardest part was keeping my 6 year old away from the slaved-over pink grapefruit (buy an extra when you do this salad). I set aside the grapefruit and chopped the scallions, fennel and fresh thyme. Be sure not to skip any of these as they each contribute to the overall flavor. My six year old tore the romaine and whisked the dressing. I add that only because if he can do this, it’s not that difficult. We served the salad with roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled baby lamb chops (yes! red meat) and cooked carrots as the boys love Granny’s carrots. Everyone, including the kids, loved it. And guess what? My mother asked me for the recipe!

Are you a recipe follower? Do you measure every ingredient or wing it? What are your fave new recipes for Spring or ones you are planning to try?

Caramelized Onion and Grapefruit Salad
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

• Caramelized onions:


3 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 onions, very thinly sliced

• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

• 1 teaspoon honey

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


• 2 pink grapefruits

• 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn into 1-inch pieces

• 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

• 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

• 3 scallions, finely sliced

• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

For the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the salad: Peel and trim the ends from each grapefruit. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a large salad bowl. Add the lettuce, fennel, cucumber, scallions, and thyme.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Arrange the caramelized onions on top and serve.


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