Geoffrey Zakarian has been reworking his recipe for grapefruit and avocado salad for more than 30 years, so you know it’s good.
The Kitchen co-host tells PEOPLE that he first tasted the dish at restaurant in Paris while completing an externship in 1980. “I didn’t speak any French but I understood the word pamplemousse meant grapefruit,” he says. “It was in the beginning of the menu and it was cheap, so I ordered it.”
“I couldn’t believe the subtle sweetness of the grapefruit, the vinegar, the avocado, which I probably had never had back then, and just the simplicity of the dish,” he continues, “and just the fact that a fancy French restaurant would serve grapefruit and avocado as a first course.”
When he returned to the U.S., Zakarian started experimenting with the ingredients and put his own spin on the no-cook appetizer. “We sort of changed it up a bit,” he says. “We make a chili vinaigrette now with Korean chili paste and we just sort of brought it to the next level for modern taste.”
To this day, it has the ability to transport him back to Europe. “Every time I look at it, every time I taste it, I go back to Paris,” he says.
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Though Zakarian describes the dish as “magical” in its current state, the chef is not quite ready to leave it alone. “‘I’ll never forget it and I’ll never stop tinkering with a grapefruit and avocado salad,” he says. “Who knew?”
Watch how it’s done in the video above, then follow his recipe below to make it yourself at home.
Geoffrey Zakarian’s Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Sweet Chili Vinaigrette
1 cup grapefruit juice
2 tbsp. chardonnay vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
Freshly cracked pepper
½ tsp. Korean chili powder (or another sweet chili powder such as Piment d’espelette)
2 each grapefruits, segmented
2 each avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into eighths
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. In a small sauce pan, combine the grapefruit juice, vinegar, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce until the mixture is thickened and syrupy- reduced by about ⅔. Add the chili powder and allow to cool in the fridge.
2. Arrange the grapefruit and avocado on a round platter, shingling the fruit in a circular formation. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, and finish with extra virgin olive oil.