Succulent, fragrant, fleshy.
I crave them. I stalk them in health food stores. I stroke them and sniff their skin and then secretly take them home.
At this time of year, I am obsessed with blood oranges.
They tell me about spring. They take foods I eat all the time and infuse them with flavour and excitement.
They make me want to cook, to invite folks over, to have delicious smells swirling through the house.
My pal Nomi came over for dinner last week. I made an appetizer salad of mixed greens, sliced roasted beets, chopped blood orange, walnuts, and blood orange dressing. We had other things, too – chicken tagine, dried fruits dipped in chocolate, vanilla ice cream – it was quite a feast! But that salad stole the show, and set the stage for a long, luxuriant, evening’s worth of conversation: about our activist histories, about Nomi’s work at a women’s centre in the suburbs, about my new girlfriend (henceforth to be known as The Guitar Player), about Nomi’s children and grandchildren.
Later in the week, I made dinner just for myself. It’s a lovely thing to do: choose the freshest piece of fish you can find, and the first asparagus of the year. Imagine how that could contrast with soba noodles you bought at a tiny Japanese shop on Queen Street West on the coldest day of the year. You had just ducked in to get a minutes’ warmth but then you remembered how much you love buckwheat noodles and they stayed in your cupboard for a month, waiting to be written into a script.
Do you have any favourite recipes for blood oranges?
Soy, Ginger & Blood Orange Trout
This recipe comes from an excellent food blog, Beyond Salmon (“Everything you ever wanted to know about buying and cooking fish”) by Helen Rennie. She writes:
“ You can put this dish together within 5 minutes, pop it in the oven and the results will be so delicious and impressive that you can serve it to the fanciest dinner guest and get rave reviews. It’s that good”.
2 trout (or salmon) fillets
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 T Japanese soy sauce
juice & zest of 1 blood orange
1 clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
Preheat oven to 375. In a small oven proof dish, lay fish fillets skin side down. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the soy sauce, orange juice & zest, garlic and ginger. Pour over fish and broil for 5-10 minutes or until fish is just done. Remove from oven and serve.
(Note: If making this for one, you can either halve the recipe, or freeze one of the marinated filets).
Beet and Blood Orange Salad
4 medium beets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup blood orange juice (from about 1 blood orange)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 blood oranges, peeled, cut into1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
About 2 cups mixed greens, including arugula, for a slight bitter tang.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice beets thinly and toss with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange on baking tray and roast for about ten-fifteen minutes.
Whisk orange juice, maple syrup, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl to blend. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Arrange beets oranges, sliced red onions, and walnuts, over mixed greens. Toss with dressing and serve.