Conscious Cook: Let in some sunshine
“So let the sunshine in. Face it with a grin. Smilers never lose. And frowners never win. So let the sunshine in.” — Milk & Sugar
Swirling snowstorms, ice-slicked roads, tumbling temperatures and it’s only January! Right about now, many conscious cooks begin to pine for the warmth and radiance of summer sunshine. When frigid days and nights are pervasive, a bit of brilliant color and joyous flavor will help defrost and regenerate the system. Citrus fruits are a beautifully natural ingredient that will rev up the winter table with generous juiciness and vibrant, vivacious hues.
Cara Cara oranges have a particular beauty that cooks can incorporate into their winter meals. A navel orange, the Cara Cara variety was supposedly discovered in the mid-1970s at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela. Now grown in California as well, the Cara Cara orange is a real beauty queen, with succulent, seedless flesh that is tinted a tempting pinkish red.
An excellent snack for assuaging a sweet tooth, Cara Cara oranges will bring a bit of glamour to a winter fruit salad. Arrange slices of Cara Cara oranges on a big platter along with pink grapefruit, clementine, mandarin and pomelo slices and you will have a sunny rainbow of goodness for breakfast or brunch. Nothing more is needed than perhaps a scattering of minced fresh mint. The slightly tangy flavor of Cara Cara oranges also combines well with cranberries, raspberries and strawberries, adding bursts of sunshine to yogurt bowls and smoothies.
Green salads love a bit of sunshine, too. Add Cara Cara orange slices to a mixture of arugula, radicchio, endive and baby kale, add minced fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon and dill, a bit of creamy goat cheese and dress it all with a citrus champagne vinaigrette.
The flesh and juice of Cara Caras can be added to quick breads, pancakes, waffles, pies and cobblers and will also shine in salsas, syrups, cocktails, sauces and soups. And the zesty rind of any citrus fruit is sensational grated over pasta, grains and rice dishes.
The versatility of Cara Cara oranges makes them a superstar winter ingredient. Available from December through April, these gorgeous fruits are low in calories, have a significant amount of dietary fiber and are a nice source of folate. Rich in vitamin A and C, Cara Cara oranges provide healing, soothing benefits for eyes, skin, hair and nails and may positively impact the aging process. The lycopene content in Cara Cara oranges is responsible for their stunning shades, and consuming these lovely, luscious fruits may possibly lower the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration.
Prepare a delicious life by letting the sunshine in!
Cara Cara Sunshine Salad
4 Cara Cara oranges (look for heavy, well rounded ones)
2 tablespoons organic honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon finely minced candied ginger
a few sprigs of fresh mint
Using a very sharp paring knife, cut about ¼-, ½-inch slice off the top and bottom of each orange. Stand the orange on one of the flat edges and cut along the curve of the orange to remove the peel and the white pith. Then slice each orange into rounds and arrange on a plate or platter. Mix together the honey, lime or lemon juice and candied ginger with a pinch of cinnamon and allspice. Drizzle over the fruit and garnish with fresh mint.
Cara Cara Champagne Vinaigrette
Will dress 3-4 salads
¼ cup champagne vinegar
zest from 1 Cara Cara orange
½ cup freshly squeezed Cara Cara orange juice
1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam ( or 1 Tablespoon honey)
1 scant teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard
½ cup canola oil (or mix canola and olive oil to equal a half cup)
freshly ground black pepper
Add all ingredients to a jar. Put lid on tightly and shake vigorously until well blended.