Thursday, January 31, 2013

Real Food: Broiled Citrus, Two Ways

When trying to add more fresh produce into our lives, I think it's easy to get bored.  If you've not eaten many fruits and vegetables until now, maybe you think they can only be eaten one or two ways: fresh in their natural state, steamed, etc.  Or, perhaps, covered in dip or melted cheese. 

In fact a friend just mentioned this yesterday.  She is working on incorporating a mostly-vegan approach to her family's meals,  "We've been eating vegan the past few weeks, and I feel like it's mostly handfuls of vegetables on a plate. In other words, completely boring and never feels like a real meal."

For the longest time I only ate my fruits as they were, and generally ate big salads full of mixed greens, or raw celery and carrots, and the most I prepared them was when I steamed veggies with some coconut oil or salt and pepper to finish.  That gets very, very boring.  Over time, I've tried to spice things up, for instance, like these beets.

One of my favorite things to do with fruit is to broil it.  The sugar in fruits transforms quickly and in just a few minutes, with little prep and without needing to completely heat up the oven, I have something hot, bubbly, sweet and delicious.  Once you start broiling your fruit, you realize you can broil just about anything. 

Here are some broiled cherries from last summer- any kind of stone fruit or berry transforms beautifully under the broiler with just a little prep work.

Of course, cherries and berries aren't in season right now (though you can get them frozen of course.)

Citrus- that's abundant right now.  Is it delicious on it's own? Yes.  But broiling it takes it to another level on a cold winter day.  These are a very sweet treat that also happen to be packed with all kinds of benefits.  They make a great end to a meal- perhaps prep them as you make your dinner, and allow them to broil while you eat for a nice dessert.  This basic recipe is great for any citrus fruit- oranges, grapefruits, etc.

Here is a simple technique for broiling citrus fruits, two ways:  First with berry-sweet blood oranges, next with limes and coconut.

Broiled Blood Oranges

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
Calories Per Serving: About 120 calories for two halves (this will vary, see below)

4 Blood Oranges, Halved and Seeds Removed
2T plus 2 t Raw Sugar (See Note)
1t Fresh Grated Ginger (amount to taste- you can also improvise with ground ginger, substitute another spice, or omit altogether)

1. Place the oven rack 6 inches below broiler and set the oven to Broil.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.  Halve the oranges (around the middle to expose the segments) and remove any seeds.  If one end of the orange is misshapen or has a stem, use a serrated knife to even out the end so the orange half can sit flat (to avoid tipping and losing juice.)  Be careful not to cut through to the orange itself; keep the white layer visible.

2.  Using your serrated knife, carefully cut around the circumference of the orange to loose the flesh from the peel.  Then, pointing the knife downward, cut most of the way through the orange along the segmented lines.  Be careful to never at any time puncture through the peel, or you will lose your juice as it broils!

3.  In a small bowl, combine sugar and grated ginger.  Mix until fully incorporated; the texture of wet sand.  Gently squeeze an orange half to open it up a bit.  Sprinkle with 1/2  to 1 t sugar mixture.*  Be sure to allow some of it down inside the orange as well as on the top.  Press down to completely adhere the sugar onto the top of the orange, allowing the juice to combine with it and hold it in place.  Repeat with remaining halves, placing them on the parchment-lined sheet.

4.  Broil until the oranges are beginning to bubble, and the sugar has melted nicely on top, about 5-6 minutes.  Watch them constantly!  You'll see them beging to "pop" up a bit- this is when they're done.

Enjoy immediately with a spoon and a smile. 

Broiled Coconut Limes

Follow the instructions above, but just before they are done, top each with a sprinkling of coconut (sweetened or unsweetened- it's up to you.)  Watch the limes very closely and remove them once the coconut has just begun to toast, about 1-2 more more minutes.

Calories: About 65 for two halves; varies with the amount of coconut and sugar used.

*I prefer my broiled oranges with grated ginger alone, or with just a sprinkle of sugar on top to go with it.  You by no means need to add sugar to them at all- it's up to you.  But, this sweeter option is a nice indulgence when you want one, and is still quite low calorie for a treat.  Obviously, a lime is going to need more sugar than a blood orange, a blood orange needs less sugar than a regular orange, etc.  Calorie counts are based on using the full amount of sugar.  Try it out, make it right.

Also, my kids love these but hate ginger.  Feel free to experiment, and then start broiling all kinds of things.  If you try something new, let me know!

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