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Seasonal Eats: Orange You Glad It's Orange Season!

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Blood Oranges at the Hollywood Farmer's Market (Heather Parlato/LAist)


Blood Oranges at the Hollywood Farmer's Market (Heather Parlato/LAist)
They’ve made their way into recipes in every post I’ve written so far, and despite the fact that everyone knows exactly how they like them, I wanted to give oranges a spotlight this week, because there are so many ways to use them. Lets get this out of the way: oranges have a glycemic load of 5, and are a great source of fiber, Folate and Vitamin C. If you’re eating the peels, you can add Calcium to that list.

First of all, a raw, peeled or cut orange is a great treat anytime. If you want to juice them up, absolutely delicious! Take them a step further while enjoying their raw goodness by adding them to endive, arugala and orange salad, or this Italian winter salad with oil-cured olives. Having chips and salsa? Throw in some chopped orange sections for a juicy zing in the mix.

If you’re tossing out the peels though, you’re missing out on some potentially great food projects and seasonings. Get yourself a zester, and start zesting every citrus peel you would have normally discarded, put some in the fridge to use fresh, and dry the rest on a plate in the oven with just the heat of the pilot. Alternately, peel the fruit and chop up the orange peels to dry out in the same way for adding to loose herbal teas. Have you ever tried making candied orange peel? Dipped in chocolate!? It’s so easy, I give them as gifts around the holidays. Finally, I’m not going to try to convince haters to befriend the oft-maligned orange marmalade, but for those of us who love it, here’s a slow-cooked chunky marmalade that looks fantastic.

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Orange zest is often the orange flavor agent in cakes and cookies as well. If you like making your own cocktail mixers, orange liqueur is easy and really tasty when homemade! Alternately, place orange slices in a jar, cover with vodka [or rum] and steep up to a 2 weeks, and make your own orange-flavored liquor. You can also use the juice and zest to make orange simple syrup for mixing cocktails. Make orange honey syrup for use with your favorite desserts. Or just use the juice in this spicy jalapeño blood orange margarita!

On the side of sweets, there are endless ways to use oranges, so I’m going to share the most unique recipes I found here. For example, I’ve never thought of poached oranges with ginger before, but the thought of white wine, Grand Marnier and ginger made me want to try it. There’s also orange curd, which is a delicious addition to desserts, or spread on toast. What about this blood orange tart? And, okay, let’s just say it’s zucchini season, which it will be later this year, and let’s say you just have to make this fudgy orange zucchini cake. Now you know how! These aren’t exactly unique, but I can’t address orange-flavored sweets without a nod to chocolate, so here you go: chocolate-orange pots-de-crème and dark chocolate and orange tart with toasted almonds. Mercy!

Oranges add delicious flavor to savory dishes too. Throw thin slices in with your roasting root medleys! Add the juice to your sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. Prepare foil packets at home or around the campfire with any fish fillet, sliced orange & lemon with butter. Squeeze the juice on your steamed or sautéed veggies. Mix the juice and zest into a citrus vinaigrette. If you’re roasting a whole chicken or turkey, slide some thin slices under the skin to infuse the flavor into the flesh. Pack up your hot peppers with this orange habañero sauce, or make up your own salsa to dress roasted, grilled, or broiled fish as in this mahi mahi with orange avocado & red onion salsa. I like to squeeze orange juice into a pan with sesame oil, rice vinegar and grated ginger, and pan fry tilapia to soak up all the flavor.

I feel like we’re just getting started here, but that’s just another testament to how amazing oranges are. I’d love to hear everyone’s crazy ideas and kitchen experiments in the comments. As for my own recipe, I’m going to continue to propagandize using the zest. Let no orange peel go un-zested in your kitchen henceforth!

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Mixed citrus salt & pepper (Heather Parlato/LAist)
Mixed Citrus Salt & Pepper

1 tbsp dried orange zest

1 tbsp dried lemon zest

1 tbsp dried grapefruit zest

2 tbsp peppercorns

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2 tbsp sea salt

The citrus type is your call—any combination will do. It’s basically a 1 part salt, 1 part pepper, 1.5 parts citrus, but even that can change to your preference. Basically I’m suggesting you throw delicious things in a pepper mill and grind them when it’s time to season your food.

So, mix them all up, store in a jar, add to your pepper mill as needed. Enjoy!