Now is the time of year when you're likely to spot bowling ball-sized citrus fruits at the market. If you're unfamiliar with the pomelo, you might think it's a giant grapefruit but this close relative has its own, distinctive appeal. Ranging in color from pale to dark yellow, green, or pink, the pomelo tastes sweeter and less acidic than a grapefruit and its firm flesh makes a delightful addition to salads.
For this refreshing salad I've taken a cue from Southeast Asian cuisine where pomelo is often paired with coconut, lime, and chile, but changed things up a bit by using silky butter lettuce and smoky-sweet French Espelette pepper. This salad is also vegan-friendly, as opposed to the seafood-laced Thai and Vietnamese pomelo salads.
When buying pomelos, choose fruits that feel firm and heavy for their size. Peeling through the thick pith requires a bit of patience, but it's well worth the effort. Reward yourself by sampling some of the fragrant pulp as you go along, as there's plenty of it to go around. (For a great tutorial, watch this video on YouTube.)
Pomelo Salad with Coconut and Lime
For the dressing
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar), or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground Espelette pepper (or other chile pepper), or more to taste
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
For the salad
1 pomelo (or 2 grapefruit), peeled, seeded, divided into large chunks
2 heads butter lettuce leaves, large leaves torn
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, large leaves torn
1/3 cup loosely packed mint leaves, large leaves torn
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (see Recipe Notes)
Whisk together the coconut milk, lime juice, shallot, sugar, salt, and pepper. Make sure the sugar is well dissolved. Whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired — you want a good balance of salty, sour, spicy, and sweet. Set aside.
Combine the pomelo, lettuce, cilantro, and mint in a large bowl. Give the dressing a whisk, pour it over the salad, and toss to coat.
Garnish with peanuts and coconut and serve.
• To toast coconut: Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden. Remove to a plate and let cool before using.