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I Vant to Suck Your Blood … Oranges

The first time I ate a blood orange was entirely by accident. I picked up a halved citrus on a friend’s breakfast bar, thinking it was a small grapefruit. Boy, was I wrong. And boy, am I glad.
Blood oranges are wicked cool. Many people have heard of these ruby-red delights, but not as many have actually tried them. For some, simply finding blood oranges can be a challenge, depending on where one lives. For most, though, it’s out of fear — after all, they do have the word blood in the name.
I was in the latter camp until I dug into my “grapefruit.” When the juices in my mouth turned out to be sweet, not sour, I was pleasantly surprised — and more than a little bit obsessed.
Like their navel-orange cousin, blood oranges are juicy, easy to peel, and rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Unlike navel oranges, however, the red variety tastes closer to a raspberry than a citrus fruit. Blood oranges are rich in anthocyanin (the same antioxidant that gives cherries and blueberries their deep hue), which may play a role in reducing post-workout soreness, according to recent research.
Blood oranges are also a teensy bit harder to find than more traditional citrus fruits. Their growing season tends to fall between the months of December and May; but even then, most grocery stores don’t stock them. Don’t despair though. Some specialty grocers carry blood oranges, and they are quite easy to order online.
Since discovering my love for blood oranges, I’ve used them in salads, fresh salsas (because I put everything in a salsa eventually), smoothies and my fave: straight up from the peel. Though I’d love to hoard all the blood oranges for myself, I’ve found they’re a great way to impress dinner guests — again, this goes back to the novelty of the ingredient. A sure-fire winner at your next dinner party is the Blood Orange, Olive and Basil salad from Gene Baur’s new cookbook, Living The Farm Sanctuary Life. It makes a beautiful first course, and the preparation couldn’t be easier.

Blood Orange, Olive and Basil Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
This salad, typically made with whatever fresh oranges are on hand and made with blood oranges here, is a popular winter dish throughout the south of Italy. Fennel and red onion are popular additions, but my favorite version (this one) concentrates on the interplay of the sweetness of the oranges, the saltiness of the olives, the pop of the basil, and the smoothness of the olive oil. It showcases one of the quintessential elements of Italian cuisine, namely that you don’t need complicated recipes to make outstanding food. You only need outstanding ingredients and the willingness to let them speak for themselves. Published with permission from Farm Sanctuary and Rodale.
  • 4 blood oranges or oranges of your choice, peeled and carefully chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chopped oil cured pitted black olives or 1⁄4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1⁄4 cup finely sliced basil leaves
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil (preferably with a peppery finish)
  • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced fennel, if in season, optional
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the oranges, olives, basil, pepper, oil, and fennel, if using. If you wish to make the salad low-fat, omit the olive oil.
  2. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Have you tried blood oranges? You’ve got to get your hands on some before they go out of season!Susan

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