Food & Wine (August 2015)
If you don't mind, we'd like to start off today with a mini-rant.
We are so over recipes and restaurant menus with meat-dish names for vegetarian plates. In fact, we thought this was already a played-out trend two-and-a-half years ago, when we wrote about a "broccoli carpaccio":
Quick tangent: Can we talk for one second about the word "carpaccio"? We know it's a very trendy thing right now to treat vegetables as hefty meat entrees. From coast to coast, chefs in progressive restaurants are serving things like cauliflower "steaks," carrot "tartare" and beet "carpaccio." Can we please cut that out? We love vegetables at least as much as the next guys -- honest! But we find this trend a bit eyeroll-inducing. We swear, the first time we see a turnip "meatloaf" on the menu, we're walking out.
Like with today's recipe: Why oh why is this called a "crudo"? A crudo is a dish of raw fish or, more rarely, raw meat.
We already have a word for raw vegetables on a plate. It's a salad.
Okay, now that we got that off our chest, here's what you really need to know about this dish: This salad is incredibly delicious.
The prep for this dish is our kind of summer cooking. The directions essentially consist of: "Put all ingredients on a plate."
One note about the ingredients: We couldn't find a jar of pink peppercorns. (They're unrelated to black or white pepper; pink peppercorns are actually dried berries that have a peppery, citrusy flavor. Fun fact: They're technically members of the cashew family!)
But we were able to buy a "Peppercorn Melange" mix that consisted of black, white and pink peppercorns in the same jar.
So we poured the contents into a bowl and sat at our dining table, picking out all of the pink peppercorns one at a time. The things we do for you, Bittens...
The dish as a whole is stunning to look at and full of sharp, bright flavors. The grapefruit zest and juice give it a tart zing, and the fennel adds lovely anise notes. The avocado brings its fatty richness. The secret star here, though, might be the dill -- It's an unexpected twist to all the sweet-tart tastes going on here, and it's fabulous.
On the whole, this is a wonderful dish. It's dead simple to make, gorgeous on the plate, and fun and unexpected on the palate.
Just please don't call it a crudo.
(This photo: Con Poulos/Food & Wine)
Total time 30 mins
1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns
1 tablespoon chopped drained capers
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated Ruby Red grapefruit zest
6 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped dill
2 firm, ripe Hass avocados—halved, pitted and cut into very thin wedges
1 fennel bulb—halved, cored and very thinly sliced lengthwise (2 cups)
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
In a bowl, mix the pink peppercorns with the capers and salt. In another bowl, whisk the grapefruit zest with the juice, oil and dill.
On a serving platter, layer the avocados, fennel and apple, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle the grapefruit vinaigrette over the crudo and sprinkle with some of the pink peppercorn–caper salt. Serve immediately, passing the remaining salt at the table.