Grapefruit, good for every meal

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I love a good Honey Crisp or Macintosh as much as the next person. But I've been eating and cooking with apples since September, and even the biggest fan of the Fuji needs something different at this point in the year. Luckily, the markets are bursting with refreshing and versatile grapefruits.

If you thought that grapefruit was just for breakfast, you've been missing a big kitchen opportunity. There's still time to make a grapefruit and avocado salad, a spicy grapefruit and mint chutney or a grapefruit custard tart before the season ends in early spring.

Grapefruit is a decidedly New World fruit. Discovered in Barbados in the 17th century, it is believed to be an accidental hybrid of the orange and the pummelo, which was brought to the West Indies from Indonesia early in the 1600s. Most grapefruit available today come from either Florida or Texas.

Because of its flavor profile — tart and sweet at the same time — grapefruit can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. A salad of grapefruit and fennel in a mustard vinaigrette is a lively way to start a late winter meal. Or arrange grapefruit sections and thinly sliced prosciutto over baby arugula and drizzle with olive oil.

Briny sautéed scallops or shrimp pair well with sectioned grapefruit, as does lobster. Fish or chicken tacos can be garnished with a grapefruit salsa. A pound cake made with grapefruit juice and zest is a nice change from plain old lemon.

Spiced Grapefruit Compote

Makes 6 servings

To section a grapefruit while removing the tough membranes: With a sharp chef’s knife, cut off the stem and blossom ends and stand the grapefruit on one of these cut ends. Cut away the rind and bitter pith. Slice into one section along the edge of one membrane. Cut along the other side of the section near the opposite membrane and remove the section. Repeat with the remaining sections.

¾ cups water

¾ cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

4 pink grapefruits, peeled and sectioned

Combine water, sugar, cinnamon stick and ginger in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

Place grapefruit sections in a large mixing bowl. Pour syrup through a strainer and into the bowl. Serve immediately over pancakes, waffles, hot cereal or ice cream. Or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days and rewarm briefly (don’t boil) in a microwave before serving.