Blood Oranges are Back, Alright!
And they are here to brighten up my Winter.
I’ve been pontificating on seasonal produce a lot of late. In doing so I realised that some of my most favourite fruits; apricots, pomegranates, blood orange and figs are those that have relatively short and specific seasons, and I think that’s actually what makes them so special. Perhaps, like those 6 episode TV series, that are only aired once a year, leaving you waiting an entire lifetime for them to return again. Stalwarts bananas and apples seem to be there for us year round and as a result just don’t seem so exciting to me. Of course, none of my favourites are grown at large in the UK, due no doubt to our grey climate so do push the boundaries of eating local, but I think I’ll be eating enough UK grown kale, potatoes and carrots to make up for it.
So this seasonal mission of mine that is having a public resurgence right now, what’s it all about? It all started with some blueberries on every single damn bowl of porridge on my Instagram feed last week, and I knew I had to do a bit more to shout out about respecting our food seasons. I know many of us eat instinctively with the seasons, but many not. It is so hard not to be seduced by things like blueberries and raspberries (the champion of low sugar fruits) when they are available all year round, but if you’ve ever taken a step closer to see where they come from do you not shudder to read the air miles? OK, so fair enough avocado and bananas are quite often to be found in my shopping basket but as with everything its all about moderation and balance, and the 80/20 rule.
If you’re not sure where to start, have a gander at a farmers market or try an on-line retailer such as Farmdrop, which I was invited to try late last year. I’m lucky I live very near South East London’s fabulous Brockley Market and when I’m not working on a Saturday morning (not often enough!), I try and head there to select some better than average seasonal organic food. Angelic as that may sound, I have a busy life, and sometimes just getting any vegetables in my shopping basket takes time and consideration. I will admit I still use a supermarket for convenience. If, like me you find yourself shopping in a supermarket more regularly that you’d aspire to don’t panic, just make sure to have a look on-line before hand as to what is best in season. There are so many great resources; I really like Eat the Seasons for its simplicity of use. So next time before wanging a bag of kale in your basket, make sure to check the food origin on the label, and if you can always choose British first. By contrast this time of year blueberries you be no doubt labeled with Chile and last time I checked Chile was 7,250 miles from London; that’s a long flight for the poor little berries!
It’s perhaps no coincidence that so many seasonally similar vegetables pair beautifully together and I’m looking forward to sharing some more fabulous combinations soon. In the meantime do enjoy this simple salad which can be enjoyed with or without the shredded chicken. Massaging kale and the sprouts sounds rather silly, but it’s an essential process to make them more edible (and it improves the taste tenfold) without cooking them. I’ve explained it the best I can below, but if you want further clarification be sure to let me know in the comments.
The blood orange has a tangier taste than your standard Seville orange, and I can’t decide if my amour for them is actually on a rather shallow level due to their appearance. I adore how the ruby red tinge marbles into the orange and is such a feast for the eyes, and also how you never quite know how beautiful they are going to be until you cut them open. Served whole in this salad, and dying my tahini dressing a lovely shade of pink; I couldn’t think of a better way to brighten up my dining table in early February!
- 2 chicken breasts
- peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic clove, parsley
- 1 bunch of curly green kale ~150g
- 8 Brussels sprouts
- 2 poached shredded chicken breasts, see above
- 1 blood orange, peeled and sliced
- Handful sliced almonds
- Olive oil
- 2 tbs tahini
- 1 blood orange, juiced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- tsp toasted sesame oil
- Pinch of salt
- First poach your chicken. Place 2 whole chicken breasts (or use legs) in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, and add aromatics of choice. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes check the chicken is white through then remove and cool for a few minutes before shredded with 2 forks (or your fingers). Keep the poaching liquid and store in the fridge for cooking grains at a later date (like quinoa, buckwheat or rice).
- Next prepare your kale, by removing the stems, and then slicing the kale into small bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
- Next prepare your sprouts, by chopping off the ends, and any outer leaves, either using a mandolin, sharp knife or grating attachment on your food processor, slice up the sprouts as thin as possible. Add to the bowl with the kale. Sprinkle the veg with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil then massage with your hands for about 5 minutes, till softened.
- In a small bowl whist together the tahini, juice of the blood orange, vinegar, sesame oil and salt.
- Pour 2 Tablespoon of the dressing over the kale and mix well, then add the shredded chicken, remaining blood orange slices, sliced almonds and a drizzle of dressing on the top.
Looking for more kale-spiration? Try this Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad from Food to Glow, Kale and Barley Salad with Teriyaki Salmon from Botanical Baker, Kale Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad from Celery and Cupcakes, Warm Spinach, Kale & Bacon Salad from Munchies and Munchkins and finally Miso Muffins with Kale, Carrot Courgette. No excuse not to get seasonal!1