Chopped Citrus and Cranberry Nut Salad

I love citrus. While most cookbooks and online recipe forums seem to think that citrus is best enjoyed in the dog days of summer, I love that it’s true season is actually the mid- winter months. Like a doting grandmother who slips you a bright little foil wrapped piece of candy in that long half hour before dinner, citrus waits till the dark days of winter to ripen.

While it’s true that citrus isn’t necessarily local, unless you happen to live in Florida, California, or parts of Texas, it is a seasonal fruit, just like anything else. So, while most of us can’t buy citrus from one of our farmer friends, it is still possible to buy it at the peak of its season when it’s freshest, imported the least number of miles, and most importantly– tastiest. For me, that means taking advantage of the natural down time that winter gives us and chowing down on all the grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, clementines, lemons, limes, pomelos, and tangelos I can eat. Peggy Bourjaily wrote an excellent piece for NPR’s Kitchen Window series about this practical locavorism.

Citrus in winter is also a nostalgic thing for me. Truth be told, I would probably eat it in the winter even if it wasn’t in season then. (Conveniently enough though, I get to keep my moral high ground.) As kids, we would always get an orange in the toe of our stocking at Christmas. I don’t know how often we actually ate the orange, but it was of utmost importance that it was there. Since starting our own Christmas traditions, Mr. Quotidian and I have dispensed with the usual stockings filled with odds and ends that end up getting lost or broken in a few weeks. Instead, we leave a pad of paper and pencil by the stockings and write down memories of the other person, then put the memory in the other’s stocking. So, by Christmas morning, we have stockings stuffed with memories. I love the tradition, but obviously an orange would feel rather out of place in such a situation. However, a Christmas without citrus seemed hollow and dull. I realized the easiest way to solve the situation was to serve citrus at one of our Christmas meals. Since citrus doesn’t do well with a cheese fondue, Christmas Eve was out. However, when I remembered a recipe for a salad using oranges and cranberries, Christmas brunch seemed the ideal way to include this jolly, festive fruit. New Year’s brunch would be delicious too…paired with a mimosa perhaps?

I’ve adapted the original recipe by substituting the citrus I had on hand– grapefruit and tangerines. I think it would be delicious using just about any citrus. The addition of lemons and limes would be especially delightful. A note on the preparation of the citrus: This salad would be dressed to the nines if you took the time to supreme the citrus. However, I’ve never been good at such things; I end up too sticky to brush the hair out of my frustrated face and annoyed with the tiny bits of mangled fruit and juice running down the edges of the counter. It is on my list of skills to master as a cook, but alas, I’m not there yet. If you’d like to try your knife at supremeing (supreming?), here’s a good video to get you on your way. (Just promise me you won’t try it for the first time on Christmas morning…bad idea.) For the rest of us who don’t have our supreme legs, chopping the citrus into tiny pieces should enable you to pick out most of the seeds.

Chopped Citrus and Cranberry Nut Salad
Adapted from Epicurious

For the nuts:
1/3 cup honey
2 tbs warm water
4 tsp of your favorite sweet “pumpkin pie” spices (I used allspice, ginger, and cinnamon)
1 tsp salt
2 cup nuts, whole or pieces (choose your favorite)

For the cranberry sauce:
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar

About 8 of your favorite citrus fruits (more if using small fruits like limes or tangerines)

Preheat oven to 350° Mix together the honey, water, spices, and salt. Stir in the nuts. Strain the nuts and reserve liquid. Spread nuts out on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely. Break into bite sized pieces if necessary.

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Add reserved liquid from the nuts. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until all the berries have popped. Let cool and chill in fridge for several hours until set. The cranberry sauce and the nuts can be done several days in advance, if needed.

Peel and chop (or supreme) the citrus, making sure to remove all the seeds. Mix them together and spread onto a platter. Smear (for lack of a better word) the cranberry sauce on top and sprinkle the nuts over that.

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Posted in Uncategorized 13 years, 5 months ago at 6:52 pm.

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