Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Are you ready for a tropical adventure, spanning more than half the worlds countries?
The humble orange, so common to all of us, has a long history, with its beginnings starting in South East Asia. The Chinese cultivated the plants and spread these sweet fruits throughout the exotic lands of the Middle East and India. The journey of the orange doesn’t stop there as the Arabs pushed into Spain, taking the colourful citrus with them. The blood orange was cultivated in Spain and Italy as the rest of the Mediterranean melded the orange into their own lifestyles and cuisines. The Spanish Conquistadors sent oranges into the Americas with the Spanish missionaries expanding their travels into South America. As North America was explored and expanded the oranges travelled again, especially with the discovery of the humble orange as a powerful cure for the disease of the sailors; scurvy. As the exploration of the seas continued, these sweet and juicy oranges concluded their round the world tour, landing on almost every shore.
It’s amazing to think that the normal, ordinary, everyday fruit that is most likely sitting in your fruit bowl even as you read this, has been on an around the world journey. Hey, where was my ticket? How come I wasn’t invited?
While we all eat oranges, and a large proportion of us also drink orange juice, what else can you do with oranges? There are more uses than just eating and juicing them and I’ve discovered a few interesting ways to use them in foods from a variety of cuisines.
See below for the interesting ideas and incorporation of oranges from a few of those interesting places that the orange has been introduced to throughout history:
Orange marmalade: either make your own or buy a jar from the store and smear over toast for a yummy breakfast with tea (very English), or spread over meat as a marinade before barbequing or grilling. Be careful though, as sweet marinades tend to burn so cook on a lower heat for a longer time.
Orange flavoured fish: Arrange orange slices or use the juice of an orange or two and combine them with herbs and spices over fresh fish, either whole or filleted. Wrap the fillets in foil or baking paper and cook as parcels in the oven or on the barbeque for an easy, fast and healthy dinner. Barbeque, grill or bake the whole fish and you’ve got a pretty spectacular dinner that is so easy to make. Check out these three easy fish recipes from Taste.com.au :
Orange salad: A little while back I found a great cookbook at the library called ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’ by Jo Seager. Jo runs a cooking school in New Zealand and the cookbook was a collection of recipes taught at the school. They are simple and easy recipes and the book is covered in bright and colourful photos to highlight the beautiful foods and recipes. Here’s a recipe from the book for orange salad, called Valencia salad because she uses the variety of oranges called Valencia.
Valencia Orange Salad – by Jo Seager in ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’:
- Scatter a plate with 4 washed handfuls of baby spinach.
- Sprinkle over the zest of one orange, then segment the orange and layer the segments over the spinach also.
- Combine ½ cup orange marmalade, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, ½ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, ½ cup of orange juice and salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad.
- Sprinkle some slivered or flaked almonds over the top and serve.
Orange and oregano over lamb: An amazing combination and it looks like orange and lamb are a popular combination as they appear together in so many recipes. Try this one from Taste.com.au :
Blood orange gelato:Blood orange gelato absolutely blew me away when I had it for a birthday dessert last year. It tasted amazing. You can try it at gelato stores, such as Gelatissimo, or you can try your own: freeze some segmented blood oranges, place into a food processor with a few tablespoons of juice and around ½ cup of sweet yoghurt (I use vanilla). Process until combined and softened and then you can scoop into cones, cups or next to fruit salad for a yummy and pretty damn healthy homemade dessert. Yum!
Orange and almond cakes: There are a ton of awesome recipes out there for orange and almond. You just have to try the one that suits your personal preferences, what you have on hand, as well as your budget. Here’s a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens TV show. It looks so good, but be prepared, there’s no trying this one straight from the oven. It needs 6 hours to cool properly before you can test your handiwork. It’s also gluten free so you can share it with your friends. Find the recipe here:
Orange and chocolate biscuits: This is another simple recipe from Jo Seager’s book ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’. I love these biscuits as they remind me of those chocolate covered wheat biscuits I used to have as a kid, but these have the sophisticated edge with the flavoursome orange hit.
Orange and Chocolate Biscuits – by Jo Seager in ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’:
- Combine 75g softened butter, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup caster sugar, zest of one orange, 1 egg, ½ cup chocolate chips, ½ cup rolled oats, half a teaspoon baking soda and 1 cup of plain flour in a bowl.
- Make walnut sized balls of the dough and spread flat onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Cook at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes and let cool completely.
- Once cooled, gently melt 1 cup of dark chocolate bits in the microwave and spread over the flat side of each biscuit. Wave a fork across the top to decorate or get creative and make your own designs. Let the chocolate harden before serving.
Orange spiced roast chicken: This sounds amazing and I’ll be honest with you, I’m having it for dinner tonight. The recipe says to use chicken thighs but I’ve got drumsticks in the freezer, so I’ll just adapt the cooking time and make this really simple spiced chicken anyway. The recipe is from Taste.com.au (its one of my all time favourite internet recipe sites so I use it a lot):
I hope this post has helped you to get creative and include some oranges in your next meal, especially if you seem to have an abundance of them like I do at the moment. Don’t forget that you could also swap the orange for tangerines, kumquats, mandarins and grapefruits in these recipes too so you keep the same orange colour, or swap to lemons and limes for a burst of yellow or green if you don’t have oranges on hand.
P.S. Did you know that there are more varieties than just the Valencia and Navel oranges available in the supermarkets? There is the blood orange, as mentioned here, as well as bitter oranges and green oranges, plus a host of other named orange varieties.