Blood Simple
March 20, 2006

I never really got why blood oranges were called blood oranges until now. Get a load of the carnage! Dealing with blood oranges is almost as bad as dealing with roasted red beets. I guess that's why you find them paired up in so many dishes -- they can just stain each other and be done with it. Okay, okay, there's another reason why you frequently find them dished together, which probably has something to do with seasonality. I'm not sure. Living in 12-month-growing-season California has muddled my senses a bit about what is in season here compared to what is in season in, you know, the rest of the normal country. For instance, we can get beets pretty much year round, but I think most everyone else relies on them as a fall-winter bit of grub.

However, lest you think we live on the Mt. Olympus of Food with Zeuschini as our personal Jesus, there are things that are strictly seasonal out here (yes, even in California!), and blood oranges are one of them. In fact, most of our prime citrus is a winter thing -- Meyer lemons, certain limes, the best oranges. It's odd, though. I mean, they have such "summery" flavors (do you see kids setting up lemonade stands in the middle of winter? Didn't think so) that it's almost unnatural for them to be a winter harvest. Then again, strawberries are still strictly summer for Minnesota-raised moi, but out here I've been told that I'm supposed to feel that "spring has sprung" when those red babies come out.

Anyway, I got an email a few weeks ago from the Ever-Tasty Janalyn (she who directed me toward the Turning Leaf wine recipe for Blood Oranges and Salmon. It's a long, slightly sad story.), asking me what in the world could she do with Blood Oranges other than salads. I don't know what to tell you, kid, because that's primarily what I do with them. I think there are some dessert recipes out there as well, though. Oh, and sauces, marinades, glazes, drinks, soups, and roasts that could benefit from a bloody squeeze or two. I think the reason why they are used in salads so often is because they are such gorgeously glossy pieces of ruby citrus.


But if you are truly sick of salads, think of them this way: a salad today is a salsa tomorrow. Not necessarily a chips and dips kind of salsa, but the kind you use as the base for grilled meats and fish. The kind of salsa chefs list on their menu to keep from saying "mess of vegetables and fruits." This week I made my favorite mess with fennel, avocado, grapefruit, and blood orange salad. One night we just had the salad, pure and unadulterated, and the next night it was a refreshing, crunchy bed for hot fillets of grilled snapper.

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