At a time when last summer's peaches and berries are mere memories, citrus fruits -- grapefruit, oranges, tangerines -- are making their way onto the breakfast table and into the lunch box. They're also the centerpiece of refreshing winter main-dish salads such as the one below.

For the best flavor and texture, learn the technique of sectioning citrus by hand rather than substituting processed citrus segments packed in refrigerated jars or cans. A little practice with a sharp paring knife will reveal the simple beauty of citrus anatomy, and you'll be pleased at the difference the natural color, taste and succulence of fresh fruit makes in a salad.

When sectioning citrus fruit, work over a bowl to catch any juices. To peel and section oranges or grapefruit, cut off one end of the fruit, then peel, cutting close to remove all of the bitter white pith. Insert the blade between each of the sections and membranes, freeing the segments.

To peel and section mandarin oranges or tangerines, tear away a small circle of peel at the bottom of the fruit. Use fingers to loosen remaining peel and to separate segments cleanly.

Thai Fruit and Shrimp Salad

Serves 4

2 cups assorted fruits: grapefruit, orange, tangelo or tangerine sections; sliced green apples or firm pears; or other seasonal fruits

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3/4 pound cooked, peeled shrimp

2 tablespoons chopped, toasted peanuts

1 fresh red chili, seeded and shredded


juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Toss apple and pear slices in a little lemon juice to reduce oxidation. Set aside.

In small saucepan, heat oil over low heat and gently fry shallot and garlic until lightly browned. Remove and drain on paper towels.

To prepare dressing, in medium bowl, combine lime juice, salt and sugar (if used); stir to dissolve. Add fruits and their juices, shrimp and half the fried garlic and shallots; toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Arrange on serving dish and garnish with remaining garlic and shallot, peanuts and chili shreds. Serve at once.

c Cole Publishing Group

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