Healthy Cooking Thursday – Blood Oranges

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For a brief window of time in my neck of the woods, blood oranges are available in the supermarket.  And every time I spot them, I gasp in glee, balk at the price tag (usually well over a dollar more a pound than their orange-y orange counterparts), then buy up a few.  I do the same thing over Meyer lemons, key limes, and cumquats.  You just can't buy these citrus fruits year round in Vermont, and if you follow this blog at all, you know how I love to cook and eat seasonally.  A rare find in the produce section will always inspire my menu.

While gruesomely named, blood oranges are anything but gory (although their presence in the opening sequence of "Dexter" flirts with fright just a bit).  Not nearly as sweet as a conventional orange, but not quite as tart as a lemon, a blood orange can be a very sexy addition to a dish.  The flesh can be anywhere from a deep crimson to only a bit of a blush; the red coloration is proof of the presence of an awesome antioxidant.

So what to do with these gorgeous, fleeting citrus fruits?

  • Segments of blood orange are magical in salads.  They work well with spinach, arugula, and other bitter greens; I would add toasted walnuts, roasted beets, and blue cheese for a sophisticated treat.  The Sicilians keep it simple with a traditional salad of blood oranges, shaved fennel, and olive oil.
  • Add to beverages much like you would a slice of lemon.  I especially like blood orange slices in green tea or seltzer water.
  • Fruit salads come alive with the color and tang of blood oranges.  Consider matching them with blueberries, pomegrante, mango, blackberries, pineapple, and/or other citrus fruit.
  • Make a super gorgeous marmalade, or make a simple syrup and pour over paper thin slices to preserve in the fridge for later use.
  • Segment and make a relish to serve with pork or chicken, using basil and chopped pepitas.
  • Add to smoothies for a gorgeous color, tangy flavor, and antioxidant boost.
  • Make a vinaigrette.  You can use our Red Grape Vinaigrette as a base, replacing the grapes with blood orange segments or just their juice.

What is your favorite use for blood oranges?

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