Starburst grapefruit salad

Celebrate the first spinach of the season

By Kolika Elle Kirk
Published March 29, 2011 12:30AM (EDT)

I love spinach. No, seriously. I think spinach is crunchy and delicious, and it's in season in Missouri. My garden is going to be full of spinach. I can't think of anything wrong with that. Not only will the leafy greens look beautiful, but the neighborhood kids will be repelled from my house by the fiber and vitamins that the people seem to be sometimes allergic to!

I used to think I hated spinach. Turns out it was canned spinach. That stuff is nasty. I didn't find out until I was about 14 that it could be served freshly and crunchily (is that a word?) in a salad! It was sweet and leafy, and it felt like it was scrubbing out my fat-riddled insides with every tasty bite. Surprisingly, that's a pleasant feeling.

I first had a spinach salad at my aunt Julie's baby shower. I think it was just spinach, some nuts and a kind of thousand island dressing. I loved it so much I ate it for dinner that night. I don't remember why I never ate more spinach after that, but when I moved to California I ate it in many salads. I found I didn't much like it cooked unless it was drenched in a hollandaise sauce or something. Definitely not frozen or canned, though. That seemed to take away all the things I loved about it: It's clean, crisp, fresh and crunchy, much like the first few delicious days of spring! This recipe comes straight out of my journal from culinary school.

Starburst Grapefruit Salad


  • 2 grapefruits (Texas Ruby Red preferred), about 26 ounces total
  • 1½ cups strawberries, stemmed, halved
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
  • ½ teaspoon grapefruit zest
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, cleaned, cut in bite-size pieces


  1. Peel and section the grapefruits over a bowl, reserving the juice and sections for the salad and dressing.
  2. Combine the grapefruit sections and strawberries in a bowl. Toss gently and reserve until needed.
  3. In a blender, combine the vinegar, sugar, shallot, reserved grapefruit juice and salt. Process until smooth. (Or whisk together by hand.)
  4. Slowly drizzle the oil through the hole in the lid while the blender is running and process until the dressing has thickened. (Or whisk into dressing in a slow, steady stream.)
  5. Remove from the blender and stir in the poppy seeds and grapefruit zest.
  6. Toss the grapefruit and strawberries with the poppy-seed dressing.
  7. Arrange spinach on chilled plates. Place the grapefruit sections and strawberries on top. Serve immediately.

Kolika Elle Kirk

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