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Life is Beautiful Blog

Bring Some Zing to Your Palate!

Blaire Benson

With our Citrus Event just around the corner, this Saturday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. to be exact, we are sharing a few culinary reasons we love growing citrus in our garden! 

Citrus plants give us shades of fiery oranges, bold yellows and glossy greens, yielding flavors that are sweet and sour, tart and tangy, fresh and sassy. Once you start to incorporate them into your cooking, you’ll want more and more!

Here are some uses that illustrate how chefs use citrus to bring a little zing to your palate:

  1. Adds flavor and texture to cuisine.
  2. Spanning a wide range of tastes and textures, citrus offers a simple way to spruce up almost any plate.
  3. Brings balance to dishes.
  4. Varying levels of sugar and acid allows citrus fruits to help balance flavors of all sorts. Sauces served with seafood are typical examples, but the same formula works with fowl, beef, vegetable and lamb dishes.
  5. Provides a healthy alternative.
  6. Citrus can pick up the slack for flavors in dishes when less healthful ingredients are eliminated.
  7. Cleanses the palate.
  8. With their pure, fresh taste, citrus juices act as palate cleansers.
  9. Promotes simplicity.
  10. Citrus brings enough color and flavor to allow a chef to use fewer ingredients to make entrees more straightforward.
  11. Pairs well with wines.
  12. In some preparations, citrus is a better complement to wine than other ingredients.
  13. Has a tenderizing effect on meat.
  14. Not only tenderizes the meat, but enhances flavor.

Along with our regular lemons, limes and oranges, here are some other fun citrus varieties to try:

  • Australian Finger Lime        
  • Moro
  • Blood Orange
  • Cara Cara Navel Orange        
  • Nagami Kumquat
  • Gold Nugget Mandarin Orange        
  • Pixie
  • Mandarin
  • Minneola Tangelo       
  • Tarocco Blood Orange

If you're ready to begin incorporating citrus into your cooking, try Mussels with Fennel, Blood Oranges and Pernod, a fresh and seasonal dish!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh blood orange juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 2 Tbsp Pernod1 tsp blood orange zest
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Toast the fennel seeds in a heavy skillet until slightly browned.

When cool, crush or grind them. Using 1 Tbsp olive oil, cook the onion, shallot, garlic and fennel until the vegetables are softened. Add the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, salt, orange juice and wine. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the mussels.

Cover and simmer until the mussels open, about 4 minutes. Discard uncooperative mussels that don’t open. Stir in the Pernod, orange zest and the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with a little freshly ground pepper.

This recipe is from the website of Kaiser Permanente, Food for Health, Recipes for Life.