A touch of citrus brightens winter meals

Flavorful, colorful fruits up the flavor while increasing the nutrient and antioxidant levels in foods

    Is there anything more inviting than the bright taste and aroma of citrus in winter? With its bright yellow, orange and green colors, fresh citrus brings a dash of color and an infusion of flavor to meals.
    It can also add nutrition, whether in a soup, salad, side dish, entree or dessert. Studies show most adults consume less fruit than recommended, and adding citrus to a meal can help remedy this.
    Citrus fruits add not only vitamin C but numerous antioxidants to the diet, helping people to maintain a healthy immune system, keep skin and gums healthy and strengthen bones.
    Most citrus fruits have high levels of potassium, vitamin A and fiber.
    You can add pieces of the fruit to a dish, or just the juice or zest to bring out a new dimension.
    Before juicing, roll the room temperature fruit on the counter first to maximize the amount of juice.
    When zesting, remember not to get any of the bitter white pith mixed in with the peel.
    When buying citrus, look for fruit that is firm and heavy for its size with bright, colorful skin and a fresh scent. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins because this indicates it is old or has been stored incorrectly.
    Don’t worry if you see a Valencia orange with slightly green-colored skin. This is a natural process that can occur in warm weather, even though the fruit is ripe.
    Most citrus fruits will keep at room temperature for several days. For best results, store citrus in a plastic bag or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
    Fresh-squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be refrigerated or frozen. Grated peel can be frozen and used when a recipe calls for zest.
    Following are a few recipes for citrus fruits from thekitchn.com and 101cookbooks.com.



Orange Chicken and Kale Stir Fry

2 to 3 medium oranges
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons safflower or peanut oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 small dried red chilies, such as Thai chilies
1 bunch lacinato kale, tough inner stems removed and leaves cut into 1-inch strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cooked white or brown rice, for serving

    Finely zest one orange and place zest in a small bowl. Juice the orange, then juice the second orange, if needed, to have 1/2 cup of juice. Add juice, soy sauce  and cornstarch to the zest and whisk with a fork. Set aside.
    Segment the third orange and reserve the segments. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and set aside.
    Set a wok over high heat for three minutes, until a drop of water bounces off the surface. Working quickly, add the oil, turn pan to coat with oil, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and dried chilies. Cook one to two minutes, stirring constantly, until it starting to brown.
    Add chicken and cook three to four minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and cooked through. Stir in kale. Stir orange sauce again and add to the wok. Cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat.
    Serve over rice and top with scallions and reserved orange segments.

Winter Citrus Compote With Yogurt

2 grapefruits, 2 oranges and 4 mandarin oranges or other citrus fruits, enough for 3 cups of fruit segments
A few strips of orange zest or curls
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1 cardamom pod, lightly crushed
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Yogurt, oatmeal or other breakfast food, to serve

    Peel and separate the citrus into segments, reserving the juice. Place citrus segments in a heat-proof bowl.
    In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup reserved citrus juice (top with water to make 1/2 cup, if necessary) with zest, honey, cardamom and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer five minutes.
    Strain syrup, drizzle over the citrus segments and gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate the citrus for at between one hour and three days.
    Serve chilled or at room temperature with yogurt, oatmeal or other breakfast food.

Bruleed Fruit With Mascarpone Yogurt Sauce

For fruit:
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract\1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 blood, Cara Cara, or navel oranges
1 small grapefruit
1 large mango
1/2 medium pineapple
For topping:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted macadamia nuts

    Place an oven rack six inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler.
    Place brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl.
    Trim the tops and bottoms from the oranges and grapefruit so they rest flat on a cutting board. Cut the peel and pith away from the oranges and grapefruit. Cut oranges crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and add to the brown sugar. Halve the grapefruit from top to bottom, then cut each half crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Add to the oranges.
    Peel mango, cut the flesh away from the pit, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Add to the bowl of citrus. Cut peel away from the pineapple, remove the core, then cut fruit into long 1/2-inch-thick strips. Add to the citrus.
    Gently toss fruit with the brown sugar. Using your hands, place fruit onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Reserve the bowl and juices.
    Broil about 10 minutes, until browned in spots — watch closely and rotate the pan as needed. Place pan on a wire rack to cool slightly.
    Remove all but three tablespoons juice from the bowl. Add yogurt and mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
    Transfer broiled fruit to serving bowls and top with the mascarpone mixture and macadamia nuts.


Roasted Carrots With Orange

1 medium orange, halved
6 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-by-1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

    Cut one orange half into four wedges, keeping the peel on. Slice wedges into thin triangles. Place in a medium bowl, add the carrots, olive oil, salt, and chili powder and toss to combine.
    Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Roast in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Flip the carrots, then roast 20 to 30 minutes, until carrots are tender and the edges are browned.
    Transfer to a serving bowl. Squeeze the juice of the reserved orange half over the carrots, add parsley and pepper and toss to combine.

Roast Chicken Thighs With Fennel and Lemon

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 small fennel bulbs
4 large cloves garlic
1 Meyer or regular lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked rice or bread, for serving, optional

    Place the chicken in a large bowl and set aside.
    Trim stalks and fronds off the fennel bulbs. Set aside the fronds. Cut each bulb into quarters through the root. Cut each quarter into one-inch-thick slices. Add to the chicken. Mince about one tablespoon fennel fronds and add to the bowl.
    Mince garlic and add to the bowl. Finely grate the zest of the lemon into the bowl. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the bowl. Add oil and white wine, season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper, and toss to combine.
    Place chicken mixture on a large baking sheet. Arrange fennel around the outside and place the chicken pieces close together in the center. Pour any remaining juices from the bowl over the chicken.
    Roast in a 425-degree oven about 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of about 160 degrees and the fennel is tender and beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest five to 10 minutes before serving with rice or bread, if desired.

Creamy Triple Lemon Alfredo

2 medium lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound dried linguine or fettuccine
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

    Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta to the pot and cook until al dente.
    Finely grate the lemons, set zest aside. Quarter one lemon, reserving the second zested lemon for another use.
    Melt butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add lemon pieces, cut-side down, and sear two minutes per side, until both cut sides are browned. Remove lemon pieces from the pan and juice them when cool enough to handle. Discard juiced lemons.
    Add cream to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add half the Parmesan, salt and pepper, then stir to combine and remove from the heat.
    Reserve one cup pasta water and drain the pasta.
    Place pasta, the remaining Parmesan, reserved lemon juice and 2/3 cup pasta water in the pan of sauce. Place pan over low heat and toss until the cheese is melted, adding more pasta water as needed to reach the desired consistency.
    Remove the pan from the heat and toss in reserved lemon zest and dill. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.


Lemony Tortellini Spinach Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium lemons
5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 14-ounce package frozen cheese tortellini
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach

    Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook six minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
    Finely grate the zest one lemon and set aside. Juice both lemons until you have 1/4 cup of juice. Set aside.
    Stir lemon zest into the soup and cook one minute. Add broth and tortellini and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook five or six minutes, until tortellini is cooked through. Stir in spinach and 1/4 cup lemon juice and cook about one minute, until wilted.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium blood orange
1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 paper-thin half moon-shaped blood orange slices, optional

    Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange. Cut zest into thin strips and set aside. Juice the orange and set aside 1/4 cup, saving the rest for another use.
    Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
    Whisk 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup blood orange juice together in large bowl. One at a time, whisk in the yogurt, eggs and olive oil. Whisk flour mixture into the wet ingredients, giving the mixture 20 good turns until just combined. Fold in zest strips.
    Transfer batter to a greased nine-by-five-inch loaf pan. Top with blood orange slices and remaining sugar. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is springy and golden-brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs.
    Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Carefully unmold the cake, flip it back to be right-side up, and return to the rack to cool completely.
    Cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for as long as three days.




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