25 February 2014

Brighten Up Winter with a Blood Orange, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

Blood Orange, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad
If dreary winter weather is getting you down, lift your spirits by adding bright, zesty citrus fruits to your every day cooking. The new year is well under way and already we have visions and hopes of Spring. Blood oranges are overflowing in our local markets. They are juicy and sweet with a dark red interior. In the kingdom of citrus, blood oranges are royalty. There is just something about them that appeals to all of my senses. They sport a thin, red-blushed orange skin, with flesh that ranges in colour from pink to a brilliant red or burgundy. They are tart-sweet and slightly berry-like in flavour.

As Elise of Simply Recipes says, "Those of you who love blood oranges don't need to be told how exquisitely wonderful they are. You know that every bite is an explosion of sweet, deep orange flavour, with hints of raspberry. You will be delighted by them." Originally from Sicily and Spain the blood orange has gained in popularity and can be found fresh or in juice form in many local grocery stores. Blood oranges contain a pigment called anthocyanin which is not typically found in citrus but rather more common in other red fruits and flowers. Not only is the inside of the orange darkly pigmented but depending on the variety the outside may also have dark washes of red. The two most popular varieties are the dark-fleshed Moro and the delicately flavored Tarocco. The former is available from December to March, and the latter from January to May. Although some are grown in California, most blood oranges come from Mediterranean countries (Southern Italy in Sicily in particular) and are often considered to be among the finest dessert oranges in the world. Imagine picking one right from the tree!!!! On my last trip to Italy I did pick lemons and oranges but sadly no blood oranges.

When juicing your citrus to extract the maximum juice, either roll your citrus fruit around on a flat work surface, pressing down firmly with the palm of your hand (this method is particularly useful for limes, which can be hard to squeeze), or warm through gently by dropping into a pan of hot water, popping into the microwave for a few seconds, or even placing in a warm oven for a minute or two. I use the microwave method myself and there is never a drop of juice wasted.

One pound of fruit equals about three medium oranges and one cup of juice. Oranges are rich in antioxidants which are vital for healthy cells, including vitamin C, which aids in healing, boosts your immune system, helps your body absorb iron, and even helps reduce the risk of cancer. One tasty, medium-sized blood orange will provide you with 70 calories, 3.0 grams of fiber, 1.0 gram of protein, and no fat, sodium, or cholesterol.

I brought my first blood oranges of the season home from the store with the thoughts of making a salad I first tried at our local Italian grocers Valoroso. Since blood oranges are grown in Italy and Spain I thought this salad would be the perfect addition to bring bright, citrusy flavour and colour into an otherwise dreary winter day. Peppery arugula, tiny colourful pomegranate arils, lemon juice and olive oil take a backseat but marry well to recreate a simple freshness we crave in the winter months. The balance of flavours in this combination make this salad a keeper with each ingredient present and accounted for. This one is for you Dina and Nuria.

**Blood Orange, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad**

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, peeled and very thinly sliced ( a mandolin makes quick work of this/make sure to add the fennel fronds to your salad as well)
2 blood oranges
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoon olive oil
juice from one lemon or Meyer lemon
6 ounces baby arugula
1/3 cup pomegranate arils
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice your fennel bulb on the mandolin. For this salad I like to keep them a little thicker rather than paper thin. You can also do this with good knife skills. Drop the fennel slices into ice water to keep them crisp. I always look for fennel bulbs that have copious amounts of fennel fronds still attached. Snip these and save them to add to the salad.

Using a very sharp knife, peel the oranges. Make sure to remove all of the pith. Cut the oranges into cross-wise slices. Remove and discard any seeds.

Drain the fennel slices and pat dry on paper towels. Pile them in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and olive oil and allow to sit for a minute or two. Add arugula and sliced red onion and season lightly with salt and pepper; toss.  Arrange salad on a platter. Top with with the orange segments, pomegranate arils, and sprinkle with fennel fronds and parsley.

Serve and enjoy.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Just beautiful Val, and georgeous pictures!!

  2. A refined and healthy salad! What lovely flavors.



  3. I just made a salad very similar to this! Great winter salad.

  4. What a gorgeous salad. I haven't seen any blood oranges this year, sadly. I am going to give them another look and if not, a regular orange will still be good.

  5. The blood orange and pomegranate make this such a beautiful salad!

  6. I miss Sicilian blood oranges! Love the bright colors of this salad... the type of food I would like to have for lunch, light and nutritious,

  7. What a great salad! It looks so colorful and delicious.

  8. Citrus is what's definitely getting me through this winter. Such a great salad!

  9. Val, thanks for posting this. I hope the blood oranges are still around when we return to Kelowna. Oddly enough, I haven't seen them here in the markets in Spain. We have been buying oranges in large bags and drinking freshly squeezed juice every day. It would be interesting to add some blood oranges into the daily juicing routine. I'll watch for them.

  10. Blood oranges are just so gorgeous, aren't they? Beautiful salad, Val, with all those colors, flavors and the crunch of the arils.

  11. A beautiful, colorful and zesty salad. It is time to lighten up and start thinking about spring.

  12. We need all the brightening we can get this winter. The photo of your salad is terrific…what a nice salad.

  13. So gorgeous. I've had blood orange olive oil that was wonderful. Would be great on this salad.

  14. That is so beautiful, Val! It would definitely cheer up even the darkest and dreariest day. :-)

  15. A beautiful salad! I love citrus salads in winter and arugula and fennel are also favorites. Win. Win.

  16. I love fennel, Nothing tastes as fresh in the winter as a fennel salad. It always tastes great with oranges too, so I'm thinking I need to try it with blood oranges.

  17. Bright and colorful. We even had a bit of winter this year in Los Angeles I was beginning to doubt it would ever arrive. GREG


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