Christmas is my favorite time of year. As a kid, I used to really love Christmas. Of course all kids love Christmas, but I wasn’t interested in presents. I had been patiently waiting all summer and fall for the orange tree in my grandparents backyard. I remember that my grandmother wouldn’t let me pick any oranges until Christmas day. She said that was when they would be at their sweetest, so it was better to wait. So the morning of the 25th, to my family, lives in infamy as a day I would conquer the orange tree, laying waste to its ripe fruit until I collapsed, victorious, on a pile of rinds. For most people, this time of year evokes dreams of sugarplums and cookies and candy canes. But around this time of year, I still have an orange gleam in my eye.
Although the season for citrus is really winter, we are lucky today to have it readily available all year round these days. And usually I advocate for eating fruit and vegetables in season because they taste better and are packed with more nutrition. But there are some exceptions, citrus being one of them. Citrus fruit is such a staple these days, we forget how awesome and healthy they can be. They have a ton of healthy benefits like being packed with vitamin C, fiber, citric acid, anti-oxidants, and they have been proven to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even obesity. And let’s not forget how refreshing a couple of orange slices at half time taste! Moreover, the smell of a freshly peeled citrus skin, or zest, can linger all day #aromatherapy.
If that isn’t enough reason to keep a stash of oranges, limes, and lemons in your fridge AT ALL TIMES, imagine the culinary possibilities. By all means, slice ’em and juice ’em. But there are a ton of things you can do with citrus besides that. For instance:
My favorite salad dressing:
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil (steeped with zest from the orange and lemon overnight….optional, but will make a big difference!)
In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients but the oil until thoroughly combined. Then whisk in the oil and adjust for seasoning.
I love this dressing on a salad of fresh parsley, frisee lettuce, shaved fennel root, orange segments, and toasted hazelnuts. But it works on virtually any salad. It is also a great marinade for poultry.
So, please keep citrus around. Citrus is healthy, delicious and can be used in a bunch of different ways. I’ve even seen a variety of ways to use lemon juice as a disinfectant. If that’s not multi-tasking, I don’t know what is! Any way, the point is now that Christmas is nearing, tis the season for me decimate the orange tree again, so if you will excuse me, I need to think of an attack plan. And don’t worry, I’ll be back soon with more citrus recipes.