A simple and surprising orange salad — surprisingly good, too!
"Delightful." ~ Pauline
"Yumm!" ~ Melanie
In the 1950s, my Minnesota grandparents bought a place in Florida and flew south in a fast ’53 Ford to become snowbirds. If the words ‘place in Florida’ conjure up something grand, think again. The place was a sandy patch parked with a small trailer with one bedroom and a pull-out couch in the living area.
After my grandfather died, Gramma walked the beach for long hours, finding solace in the sea shells that washed up along the Gulf Coast. In the spring, my parents descended with my sister and me, schoolbooks in bags, the dog on a leash.
Out back was a veritable citrus grove: the gnarled old grapefruit whose fruit was heavy and sweet; orange trees of different varieties; a glossy-leafed lemon tree; a mostly fruitless tangerine tree that disappointed a tangerine-loving eight-year-old.
Mornings, Dad led us out back to pick fruit for the morning’s juice, peering and then stretching deep into the branches, teaching us to blend two sweet oranges from this tree, a sour orange from another, plus a tart lemon. Twas intimate, that, our understanding of those trees and their fruits.
As a Midwestern adult, I’ve lost all but the memory of what it’s like to know the fruit of a particular tree with such intimacy, not just a tree of a certain variety, not even just that certain tree’s own fruit – but that tree’s fruit on the sunny side early in the season matched against that borne from the shady side late in the season; in dry years and in wet; in the tree’s youth and in its later years.
Now I buy three-pound bags of no-variety Florida oranges picked by machines and held in cold-storage for sale many states afar. Should I ever have a place in Florida, the first thing I’ll do is plant a grove.
SAVORY ORANGE SLICES
Time to table: 15 minutes
- Oranges, preferably seedless
- Red onion, chopped fine
- Good red wine vinegar
- Good olive oil
- Good pepper
Slice off the ends and peels off the oranges. Cross-wise, cut into slices. (Photo tutorial: How to Cut an Orange for Slices.) If you like, let the slices rest on paper towels for a minute to soak up extra juices. Arrange the slices overlapping on a plate. Sprinkle with red onion, a very light dusting of sugar, and tiny splashes of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Grate fresh pepper over top. Serve and savor!
ALANNA’s TIPS Allow about two oranges to serve three. Oranges are available in the grocery stores year-round but are least expensive during the height of the growing season, think November through March. Seasons aside, I especially like to serve oranges in the spring, when I’m hungry for the lightness of fresh fruit but spring’s strawberries and rhubarb have yet to come in. For me, oranges are a ‘bridge’ food, helping to span the seasons. That said, this makes a fabulous summer salad and pairs beautifully with grilled meat. For a quick summer dessert, try Sliced Citrus with Orange Water, Spices & Chocolate Shavings.
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