Kid-friendly Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad

Recipe: Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad

Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Africa Studio/
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
0 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad

Niçoise Salad (pronounced nee-SWAZ salad) originated in the city of Nice on the French Riviera – ooh, la-lah! Traditional ingredients include tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, olives, anchovies, tuna, and vinaigrette dressing. Niçoise Salad is usually served as a “composed salad” which means rather than tossing everything together in a bowl, you artfully arrange each component on a platter. Let's hear it for artful food!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • emulsify :

    to convert two or more liquids into an emulsion. What is an emulsion, you ask? It is a fine dispersion of teeny tiny droplets of one liquid into another. It’s what allows oil and vinegar to mix and not separate.

  • juice :

    to extract or squeeze out the juice of a fruit or vegetable, like a lemon, orange, or carrot, often cutting open or peeling the fruit or veggie first to access its flesh.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • toss :

    to lightly lift and drop food items together or coat food items with flour, or a sauce or dressing, as in a salad.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

  • zest :

    to scrape off the outer colored part of a citrus fruit's rind (skin or peel) using a metal tool with small sharp blades, such as a zester, microplane, or the small holes of a grater (avoid the "pith," the white, spongy lining of the rind that can be bitter).

Equipment Checklist

  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Wooden spoon


Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 grapefruit, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp sugar (or honey)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 C romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 C Kalamata or black olives, chopped
  • 10 basil leaves, ripped
  • Additional ingredients (choose one or more):
  • 1/2 C green beans, chopped
  • 1/2 C cannellini beans
  • 1/2 C cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 C artichoke hearts, canned or brined
  • 1 cucumber, diced


Grapefruit Basil Niçoise Salad

vinaigrette: combine + whisk + emulsify

Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, half the juice of 1 grapefruit (reserve the rest in your pitcher for the drink later), 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl and begin whisking. Whisk until smooth and completely mixed. (Tip: Whisking oil and grapefruit juice together will create a semi-permanent emulsion, but adding Dijon mustard will hold the mixture together permanently and create a creamy texture.)

salad: chop + rip + toss

Chop 3 cups of romaine and 1/2 cup of olives, rip 10 basil leaves, and add to a large mixing bowl. Add all of your additional selected ingredients, then gently toss the salad together with a wooden spoon.

drizzle + serve

Finally, drizzle the grapefruit vinaigrette over the top of the salad and serve!

Surprise Ingredient: Grapefruit!

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Photo by Valentyn Volkov/

Hi! I'm Grapefruit!

"Grapefruits are one of the larger citrus fruits. You may have eaten us with breakfast or drank our juice. Did you know you can squeeze close to a cup of juice out of one grapefruit?! It may seem like pink grapefruits are sweeter but whether we are white, pink, or red, we have the same amount of sugar!"

History & Etymology

  • The grapefruit is a large, round citrus fruit that originated in Barbados, an island country in the Caribbean. It came about by accident as a natural hybrid of a sweet orange and a pomelo, the largest citrus fruit.
  • The story is told that Captain Shaddock (or Chaddock) brought pomelo seeds to the West Indies in the 17th century and grew that fruit. Then, sometime during the middle of the 1700s, the offspring of a natural cross between a pomelo and a sweet orange developed and became known initially as "forbidden fruit."
  • The word "grapefruit" was likely coined in the 1800s because the fruit tends to grow in clusters, similar to grapes (although much, much larger than grapes!).
  • China produces over half of the grapefruit in the world. Vietnam, the United States, and Mexico are the next biggest producers.
  • Florida grows the most grapefruit in the US, followed by California and Texas.
  • The Texas red grapefruit is the state fruit of Texas. 
  • February is National Grapefruit Month!


  • The grapefruit tree's scientific name is "Citrus × paradisi" (the × indicates it is a hybrid). It is a subtropical tree that grows 15 to 20 feet tall. The fruit grows in clusters. 
  • Grapefruit skin starts out green but turns yellow to yellow-orange when ripe. Grapefruit flesh has sections like lemons and oranges, and its color can be light yellow to red, depending on the variety. Its pulp contains a lot of juice. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • When selecting grapefruit in the market, choose ones that are heavy for their size (juicy!) and have a uniform color. A white grapefruit's skin will be yellow, a pink grapefruit will be yellow-orange, and a red grapefruit will be orange. A more oval than round shape means the fruit is riper. 
  • Grapefruit can taste bitter due to a flavonoid called "naringin." The riper the grapefruit, the sweeter it is. Some people add sugar to lessen the bitterness, and others add a bit of salt. Avoid eating the pith, the white tissue lining the inside of the skin, as it is always bitter. 
  • Grapefruit and its juice are popular for breakfast. The fruit is often cut in half, and the flesh scooped out with a spoon. You can buy a special grapefruit spoon that is serrated on each side to help separate the sections.
  • Cooking grapefruit also lessens its bitterness. Sprinkling a little brown sugar on a grapefruit half and broiling it is a popular way to eat grapefruit.
  • You can add grapefruit sections to salads and its juice to vinaigrettes. You can also use grapefruit and its juice in desserts, entrees, and drinks.


  • According to the USDA, one-half of a grapefruit contains the total amount of vitamin C your body needs in one day! It also has six grams of fiber, making it one of the highest-fiber fruits. Pink and red grapefruit have more beta-carotene than white grapefruit. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and changes to vitamin A in our bodies.
  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice interact with some medications, so it is vital to check drug interactions for a particular medicine before ingesting grapefruit or grapefruit juice. It can also affect the absorption of certain medications.

History of Niçoise Salad!

Photo by Karen Hermann/
  • The Niçoise salad originated in the Riviera town of Nice. It is traditionally served with many chopped ingredients arranged on large platters. The ingredients often reflect the season or region. Usually, you can find things like olives and tomatoes in this salad during the spring and summer. Then, it switches to a hardy combination of potato and tuna in the fall and winter.

Let's Learn About France!

Photo by Alliance Images/
  • Bonjour (hello)! Bienvenue en (welcome to) France and the spectacular Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci, and ancient Roman ruins in the Provence region.
  • France is a European country, and its official name is the French Republic. The capital city is Paris, which also has the most people. 
  • France's land area is 248,573 square miles. That is almost the size of the US state of Texas! The number of people in France is 67,874,000, about 43 percent more than in Texas.
  • The official and national language is French, which is also the official language in 12 other countries, and a co-official language in 16 countries, including Canada. 
  • France's government consists of a president, a prime minister, and a parliament and is divided into regions and departments rather than states and counties.
  • The French have a well-known motto, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."
  • In addition to the Eiffel Tower, France is known for the Louvre, the most visited art museum worldwide (the Mona Lisa resides there), the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) in southeastern France on the Mediterranean coast.
  • France is famous for the "beaux-arts" (fine arts). Paris is still home to many artists and great painters, artisans, and sculptors. Great literature came from French authors, such as Victor Hugo's novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Paris has two popular nicknames. The most common is "The City of Light" (La Ville Lumière), which came about because Paris was the first European city to implement street lighting in 1860, lighting up the city with 56,000 gas street lamps. The second is "The City of Love," (La Ville de L'amour). This name is probably due to Paris being considered one of the most romantic cities in the world and the high number of marriage proposals at the Eiffel Tower!
  • French cuisine is known for its freshness and high quality. Many of the world's greatest pastries originated in France, such as the croissant, eclair, and macaron!
  • Other French foods are escargot (snails!), baguette (bread), ratatouille (roasted tomato, zucchini, and eggplant—remember the movie?!), and crepes (very thin pancakes).

What's It Like to Be a Kid in France?

  • Most kids start school (preschool) at around age three. Depending on the area and the school, students go to school 4 to 5 days a week. They often get a 1½-hour lunch break, and some kids go home for lunch. 
  • Dinner is served at 7:30 pm or later, so afternoon snacks are essential. "Le goûter" (goo-tay), or afternoon tea, often includes a "tartine," a slice of bread topped with something sweet or savory (like cheese, butter and jam, or Nutella). Other popular snacks are yogurt, fromage blanc (white cheese), and fruit. 
  • Popular sports for kids are soccer, bicycling, and tennis.
  • There are several parks in France, in and around Paris. Napoleon III even designed one of them, the Bois de Boulogne, where you can find beautiful gardens, lakes, a zoo, an amusement park, and two horse racing tracks. In addition, kids can go on pony rides, play mini-golf, and race remote control boats at many public parks.  
  • Of course, kids can also go to the most popular theme park in Europe, Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992. While there, kids can go on a ride unique to Disneyland Paris: Ratatouille: The Adventure!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you get when you cross a cat and a grapefruit? 

A sour puss.

The Yolk's On You

Why did the grapefruit stop rolling halfway up the hill?

Because it ran out of juice!

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