Bring on the Blood Oranges

As many of you know, I've got a thing for winter citrus. There's a fruit bowl on the dining room table, and it's brimming with peelable sun-kissed treats. My current citrus main squeeze, however, is the blood orange, which is making the rounds at area produce aisles.


Still life, January style: A blood orange among its citrus brethren.(Kim O'Donnel)

Although it may seem like old hat to citrus hounds in Texas and California (and Italy and Spain), where the arancia rossa thrives, I am swooning over my stash, as I know they'll soon vanish into the produce sunset.

Aside from eating out of hand, which I heartily endorse as a mid-afternoon snack activity, the blood orange offers intriguing savory opportunities at the dinner table. If you've never had the pleasure, a blood orange is a heaven-sent combination of sweet and tart that sparkles on the tongue. Think navel orange mixed with a handful of raspberries, and you've got a blood orange.

Because of its bittersweet nature, the blood orange loves to play with members of the allium family -- red onion, scallions, shallots -- and it loves the heat of a chile pepper.

Below is a riff on an old Florida classic -- grapefruit, avocado and crab salad -- which is easily tweaked with blood orange, shrimp and red onion. There are lots of things you can do with this template -- make the salad and serve it over arugula, watercress or butter lettuce and eliminate the seafood altogether if you're a veg -- or replace the shrimp with a light, white fish, simply sauteed.

Whatever you decide, the combination of kicky citrus, fatty avocado, piquant onion and hot pepper will send you to the moon. In no time, you'll be doing the samba -- or some kind of happy dance. I've also provided how-to on a blood orange viniaigrette, to give the ole mixed greens a kick in the pants.

After a three-week holiday hiatus, today is chat day. Join me for the first What's Cooking of 2008.

Blood Orange Salsa

Inspired by a recipe on epicurious.com



Ingredients


3 blood oranges

1 avocado, pitted and diced into one-inch cubes

¼ red onion, into thin dice

diced chile pepper to taste (I used ¼ habanero)

1 lime

Salt to taste

Olive oil

3/4 pound U.S. farmed or wild shrimp, peeled and deveined, if necessary (alternatively: 12 ounces of mahi mahi, farmed tilapia, Pacific halibut. For sustainable ideas and guidance, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood watch card.)

Method
Peel and segment oranges: With a sharp paring knife, remove white pith without removing flesh of orange. Carefully cut between membranes to release segments - this can be done over a bowl (as blood oranges are juicy) or in your hand (but only do this if you're feeling confident).

Place orange segments in a bowl and add avocado, onion, chile, juice of ½ lime and salt. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Place plastic wrap directly on surface (to minimize browning of avocado) and set aside while you prepare seafood.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat surface of pan. Season shrimp (or fish, if using) with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook, about 2-3 minutes total. Shrimp will change color, from translucent to opaque. Squeeze the remaining lime half over shrimp and turn off heat.

Place shrimp on a plate and spoon salsa over shrimp.

Makes enough for two small main dishes or as a starter.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Ingredients
Juice of two blood oranges (yields at least 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
­1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Washed, dried and torn leaves of arugula, watercress, mizuna or greens of your choice
Optional: Separated segments of one blood orange, toasted slivered almonds, pinenuts, walnuts

Method
Pour juice into a small mixing bowl. Add vinegar and mix with a whisk. Add salt; taste along the way. Mixture should be somewhat salty. With one hand, gradually pour in the olive oil to the juice-vinegar mixture, while whisking with the other hand. You'll notice the mixture emulsifying, coming together.

Taste. Enough juice? Vinegar? Olive? Salt? This is your chance to make adjustments before pouring over your greens and tossing for your guests. Add orange segments and nuts, if using. Serve immediately.

By Kim ODonnel |  January 8, 2008; 10:45 AM ET Seasonal Produce , Winter
Previous: Playing With Polenta | Next: Getting Personal About Pots and Pans

Comments

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Hi Kim, I love blood oranges too! I live in inner-city b'more and the grocery stores aren't the greatest... any suggestions for where to get a box of these shipped to me? Thanks!

Posted by: Julie | January 8, 2008 11:48 AM

This is a chat leftover - in regards to the Truffle OIl - there is a restaurant in Annapolis - the Yin Yankee - that serves truffle fries - hand cut fries tossed with truffle oil and salt afterwards. OH MY GOD. That's all there is to say.

Posted by: yum | January 8, 2008 1:22 PM

BLOOD ORANGE MARGARITAS!!! I watched the Barefoot Contessa make them. I stole her idea and made them on a camping trip (well, not THAT much roughing it; we had ice). They're a beautiful color and SOOO yummy!!

Posted by: Zuvielekatzen | January 8, 2008 3:04 PM

Kim--you posted a wonderful recipe a few years ago for curried chicken. I think you said that you liked to eat it when you were under the weather, maybe coming down with a cold or something like that. I think it had coriander in it. I can't find it on you web site! Could you post it again?

Posted by: theamarie | January 8, 2008 3:55 PM

Also from this afternoon's chat, referencing the poster who questioned why soon-to-be-marrieds register for new cookware when they've been using other stuff well enough to date:

Well, sometimes those individuals are using hand-me-down cookware, or lesser-quality cookware (see graduate student's post), and they're getting married/committed, and their loved ones would really like to give them a gift that would a) be useful and b) appreciated.

I mean, I get it. Big life ceremonies can be turned in to big present-grubbing opportunities, but in many other cases, it is a nice way to help a new couple invest in a set of cookware that will last and last (as you'd hope that their committment would).

And, to the poster who suggested the I Do Foundation, I think that is a lovely idea.

Gosh Kim, sorry... maybe this would've been better for Ms. Hax.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 5:32 PM

Kim's Chicken for a Cold recipe (which she calls Chicken Cafreal) is in the blog recipe index. Go to: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/mighty-appetite/2006/12/cafreal_for_a_cold.html

Tip for future searchers: if you are using Internet Explorer, click CTRL+F to open a "Find" window. Enter your search term. This works on any Web page. It helps on pages like Kim's blog index, since the recipes might be listed by a clever name or a first word other than what you are thinking about (e.g., a lamb recipe is listed in the R section under Roasted Leg of Lamb).

Good luck with the cold. I am battling bronchitis and planning on garlic soup (Mark Bittman) to sweat out or burn out this awful cough.

Posted by: For TheaMarie | January 8, 2008 5:54 PM

I love blood oranges too and you can get them here but at a price - $7.95 a kilo last time they were in season. My friends thought I was mad (ordinary oranges were $1.99 a kg)but I thought they were worth every cent. They make a great sorbet or a very nice orange and almond cake.

Posted by: Ailsa, Australia | January 10, 2008 8:38 PM

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