The dead of winter is a sad time for folks who try to eat seasonally. Root vegetables are nice enough, and don’t get the credit they deserve, but root vegetables alone can’t keep anyone excited about their food for a couple of months.
But you know what else is in season now? Citrus, that’s what. It’s not local, but it’s seasonal, and sometimes that’s enough. The bright colors and delicate aromas of oranges, grapefruit and their citrus siblings do brighten up the short, dark wintry days of January.
And you aren’t limited to just peeling and eating the occasional Mandarin orange or tangerine, though there’s nothing wrong with that.
Citrus can be roasted, right in the oven or toaster oven, and then used to perk up just about anything; a sad winter salad, a stack of pancakes, some roasted meat that could use a colorful side dish, or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can even build an impressive tart with thin slices of roasted orange. Sliced thinly and roasted slowly, the orange peel softens and loses its bitterness, and in an inexplicable miracle of mid-winter alchemy, you can eat it.
Remember back in the middle of the last century when hotel breakfast menus included broiled grapefruit? It sounded exotic and daring back in those days, and no one ever ordered it, but if Howard Johnson’s could broil a grapefruit in 1965, there’s no reason you can’t roast a clementine in 2018.
The procedure is similar to any other roasted fruit or vegetable, just put it in the oven until it caramelizes and becomes more delicious. The roasting concentrates the sweetness and intensifies the flavor. A little olive oil never hurt anything, and if you’re going for a savory use, you can throw on a few herbs. Rosemary is a good choice as the flavor combo is nice and there’s a good chance that even in the harshest of winters, at least one rosemary plant in your herb garden may still be clinging to life this time of year.
If you’re planning a dessert or breakfast use, you could go with cinnamon and some extra sweetening, honey or brown sugar. Added sugar will make the fruit caramelize faster, so watch carefully.
A little roasted citrus can make a batch of pancakes dinner-worthy. But try to find some blood oranges or red grapefruits. Regular oranges are too close to the color of pancakes to give any color contrast, but if that’s all you can find, just go with it. You’ll still have more color interest than if you were eating turnips or a parsnips.
And nowhere will roasted citrus be more useful than in helping sad, winter salads be less sad. Right smack in the middle of the season of no tomatoes, when you can’t even remember back to the first frost that killed off the last tomato, and it’s not even time to plant the seeds for next year’s crop, a handful of caramelized, jewel-colored citrus is just what your winter salad needs.
Roasted Winter Citrus
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice citrus (like grapefruit, blood oranges, and seedless tangerines) into small wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt and just a touch of sugar. You might even add a bit of dried herbs, like herbes de provence. Roast for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then serve warm.
Brown Butter Winter Citrus Pancakes
Makes enough pancakes for two people, double the recipe for a larger group. use any citrus that makes you happy, but red or pink grapefruits or blood oranges will over more color contrast to the pancakes than plain oranges.
2 tangerines, peeled
1 red or pink grapefruit, peeled
1 blood orange, peeled
3 tbsp. butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. citrus zest
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice citrus into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt and just a touch of sugar. Dust with a bit of cinnamon. Roast for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow to rest for 10 minutes while making pancakes.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. The butter will foam and froth then begin to brown. When the butter solids begin to brown, keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. The butter will smell rich and nutty. Cook until butter bits are brown, then remove from the hot pan and place in a small bowl. Whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract and citrus zest. Whisk in the browned butter. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork until well incorporated. If the batter is a little lumpy, that’s just fine. Let batter rest while you heat up the skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Great skillet with a teaspoon or two of oil or butter. Spoon pancake batter by the 2 tablespoonfuls into the hot pan. Let cook until browned on one side, flip and brown on the other side. Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate in an oven heated to 150 degrees F. This will keep the pancakes warm while you cook the rest. Arrange the pancakes on a plate, top with roasted citrus and maple syrup.
Roasted Orange Tart
For the Crust:
1 -1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
For the oranges:
9 Valencia or navel oranges, sliced into thin rounds
4 tbsp. honey
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
For the crust: Sift together flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 3 tbsp. ice water, stirring dough with a fork until it just begins to hold together. Press dough firmly into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give the dough several quick kneads with the heel of your hand to form a smooth dough, shape into a disk, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 11” round. Fit dough into a 9” fluted false-bottomed tart pan, then run the rolling pin over top of pan to remove any overhanging dough. Prick bottom of dough lightly with the tines of a fork. Line dough with parchment paper, then add pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edge is golden, about 40 minutes. Remove paper and weights, and continue baking until crust is deep golden, 10-15 minutes more. Set crust aside to cool. Lower heat to 325°. Arrange half the orange slices in an overlapping pattern in the bottom of a 16” x 12” roasting pan, then drizzle with 2 tbsp. of the honey. Repeat with remaining slices and 2 tbsp. honey. Pour orange juice over oranges, cover pan with aluminum foil, and roast until rinds are soft and plump, about 1 ½ hours. Remove pan from oven and increase heat to 375°. Sprinkle oranges with sugar and roast, uncovered, until oranges are very soft and browned around the edges and the pan juices are thick and syrupy, about 50 minutes more. Arrange orange slices in prepared crust, then drizzle with pan syrup. Allow tart to rest for 1 hour before serving.
Five-Spice Pork With Roasted Oranges and Broccoli
1 head broccoli, florets roughly chopped, stalk peeled and sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small orange (unpeeled), cut into wedges
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
1 tsp. five-spice powder
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the broccoli, onion, ginger, garlic and orange with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a shallow baking dish. Set aside. Pat the pork dry and sprinkle all over with the five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the pork to the baking dish with the broccoli-orange mixture and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145 degrees F, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, return the broccoli-orange mixture to the oven and roast 5 more minutes. Serve the pork with the roasted broccoli and orange wedges.
Roasted Cinnamon Oranges
This recipe yields a product very similar to old-fashioned broiled grapefruit. You can eat them right out of the shells for breakfast or brunch, or scoop out the chunks to use in other (sweet) dishes, or perhaps serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
2 large oranges
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. honey or brown sugar
Preheat oven broiler. Cut oranges in half and remove the seeds. With a sharp knife, separate the pulp from the skin. Crosscut the pulp to form wedges which can then be easily removed with a spoon. Put the half oranges with the cut side up on a baking tray. Pour the honey or sprinkle the brown sugar over the oranges and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Place under the broiler 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.
Roast Orange Slices
1 medium navel orange (any seedless orange will do)
Line a small baking tray with foil, then spray with a bit of oil. Peel orange by removing the skin and the white membrane, then cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lay flat on the foil lined tray. Drizzle with a good vanilla extract, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Finally, drizzle honey generously over each slice. Place oranges in oven or toaster oven, set to “broil”. Broil until they are nice and brown on top. In my toaster oven, this takes about 15 minutes, but probably less in a regular oven.
Roasted Orange and Beet Salad
For the Salad:
1 cup pearled farro
2 cups water
1 large orange
3 medium beets, trimmed and peeled
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium bunch of kale
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cubed
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
For the Dressing:
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. orange juice
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Cook the farro. In a heavy bottom saucepan, bring the farro and the water to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, about 25-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Once cooked, remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Note: if you have whole farro instead of pearled farro, this will require an overnight soak and a longer cooking time. Follow the package instructions. While the farro is cooking, pre-heat your oven to 400°F. Trim and discard the ends from the orange. Then slice the orange into 1/4-inch thick slices, discarding any seeds that you find. Slice the beets into 1/4-inch thick rounds as well. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the orange slices and beet slices out on the parchment-paper lined baking sheets, keeping them separate. Drizzle a little olive oil over the orange and beet slices, then sprinkle the tops with a pinch of salt. Transfer to your pre-heated oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes. The orange slices are done when they have started to blacken in some places. The beet slices should be softened slightly. Remove from your oven and set aside to cool. Trim and discard the thick stems from the kale. Then thinly slice the leaves into ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large bowl along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use your hands to massage the olive oil into the kale until the leaves are well coated and shiny. Add the cooked farro, avocado, goat cheese and the roasted orange and beet slices to the bowl.
Make the salad dressing by whisking together all of the ingredients. Then add the dressing to the bowl, tossing gently to coat. Serve and enjoy. This salad will keep for up to one day in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.