Blood oranges have a unique flavor profile—almost raspberry-like along with its citrus flavor profile. Some blood orange varieties can be quite a bit tart. One of my favorite preparations is gently cooking them to create marmalade. It also frequently finds its way into salads with other intensely flavored vegetables such as fennel and celery. It’s quite good in combination with a solid amount of toasted nuts such as pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts. Almost certainly it has made its presence among my winter fruit selection. Often I simply filet the orange into sections, which is done by cutting the skin off with a knife and then carefully cutting each orange segment out between the skin structure of the orange. I like to shave white chocolate over such orange segments—it balances the fruit’s natural tartness in a seductive, sweet and sour kind of way—perfect for Valentine’s Day.
More About Blood Oranges
Blood oranges are a variety of orange with crimson, blood-colored flesh. Blood oranges are about the same size as an average orange. The signature dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigment. Due to its pigments, the blood orange contains greater amounts of antioxidants than other oranges. Sometimes there is a Bordeaux red coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, and also the skin tends to be tougher and harder in comparison to regular oranges. Blood oranges cultivated in the United States are in season from December to March, and they’re predominantly from Texas and California. Blood oranges are now the primary orange grown in Italy. The anthocyanins that give the orange its distinct maroon color will only develop when temperatures are low at night.
Following are two recipes to give you an idea of how to prepare blood oranges in a simple way.
Chopped Winter Salad with Blood Oranges
(recipe yields four portions)
12 ounces prepped lettuce such as romaine, endive, dandelion greens—a mixture or one variety is optional
6 blood oranges
1 fennel bulb
1 cup nuts such as pistachios, pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
fresh black pepper grindings from the mill
1) Rinse the lettuce with water and dry in a salad spinner or with kitchen paper towel. Chop lettuce into 1-inch pieces.
2) Cut top and bottom off the oranges. In a curved manner cut the skin off from top to bottom. Cut peeled oranges into 1/2-inch chunks.
3) Cut fennel in half, cut core out and throw out. Cut fennel into 1/8-inch thick slices using a Mandolin or a knife.
4) In a bowl combine lettuce, oranges, fennel, nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss the mixture.
Blood Orange Segments & White Chocolate
(recipe yields four portions)
8 blood oranges
1 ounce white chocolate
1 tablespoon peppermint leaves, hand torn (optional)
1) Cut top and bottom off the oranges. In a curved manner cut the skin off from top to bottom.
2) Hold the orange in your hand above a small bowl—it will catch the dripping orange juice. With a small knife cut the segments out in between the skin structure. Drop segments into the small bowl.
3) Holding the skin structure in your hand, press the excess juice over the segmented orange.
Chef’s tip: Moro blood oranges are my preferred variety. They’re super red and sweet.