With the days dark and the winds wintry, we stay inside, That’s when I crave the sunny flavors of citrus to lift me out of the doldrums. Oranges are especially great right now. Cara Cara navels, sometimes called the red navel, boast a rosier interior than other varieties. From the outside, they look like any old orange, but cut them open and their deeper hues shine. The flavor is a little brighter, slightly tangier, less acidic and a bit more intense and they’re seedless.
Cara Cara navels are generally medium-sized. When buying them, look for firm, shiny, fruit that’s heavy in the hand; store them in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Sections make beautiful additions to salads, fruit medleys and chicken or pork sautés. Here are a few bright ideas:
Lavender and mint oranges: Lay peeled sliced wheels on a platter and drizzle with honey, crushed lavender and chopped mint. Serve at brunch or for a light dessert.
Orange salad with rosemary and vanilla: Peel and section oranges into a bowl. Add a split vanilla bean and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve as a side to roast lamb or pork or for brunch.
Orange and avocado salad: Toss orange sections with slices of avocado, a little extra-virgin olive oil, pinch of hot red pepper, squeeze of lime, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a plate of arugula or mixed lettuces and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
Citrus accent: Sprinkle orange zest and juice over roast chicken, pork and lamb as it comes from the oven.
Orange butter: Whip an orange zest and juice into softened, unsalted butter. Sweeten with a little honey for scones and muffins or add chopped fresh parsley or thyme for a savory spread.
There’s something childish and delightful about creamy-orange desserts — like Creamsicles for adults. Spoon orange segments over vanilla ice cream and garnish with chopped walnuts; whip orange zest and a little orange juice into cream to top nut tarts and poundcake.
Or try the recipe here for oranges and Greek yogurt, which comes together in a snap. You can make the components ahead and assemble it at the last minute. It’s light and luscious.
Spiced Oranges With Greek Yogurt Whip
Note: This recipe is easily expanded to serve a crowd or can be cut back for an indulgent and lovely dessert for one. The Greek yogurt is tangy and rich, especially the whole milk variety, but 2 percent or nonfat will work equally well. To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread the almonds on a pan and bake until fragrant, about 2 to 4 minutes. From Beth Dooley.
• 4 medium navel oranges (such as Cara Cara)
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 tbsp. cloves
• 2 c. Greek yogurt
• 2 to 3 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
• Toasted nuts for garnish, optional
• 1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted (see Note)
Peel the oranges and slice into wheels, being careful to catch any juice. Place all in a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt with the honey.
To serve, remove and discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Spoon the yogurt into individual bowls or a large serving bowl. Arrange the orange slices over the yogurt and drizzle the juice over all. Scatter the almonds over the top right before serving.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 230 Fat 7 g Sodium 50 mg
Carbohydrates 30 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 26 g
Protein 16 g Cholesterol 10 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
Exchanges per serving: ½ milk, 1 fruit, ½ carb, 2 lean protein, ½ fat.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.