When most people think of fall, lemonade does not come to mind — or key lime pie, or even orange juice or fresh grapefruits. But the truth of nature is that, although all citrus plants fruit at slightly different times, late fall is the beginning of citrus season. Many varieties of citrus, having traveled hundreds or even thousands miles from their snowbird homes, are showing up in grocery stores across the country.
Citrus flavors appear in many traditional foods of the season. The candied citrus in fruit cakes, orange juice in glazed carrots and the lemon zest and peel in baked goods have become the ubiquitous flavors of fall and winter. Because the flavor of citrus is so refreshing, it’s no surprise that we also adore it when times are hot. If you want to taste the very best citrus of the season, find the heaviest, sweetest orange imaginable, or the sweet peel and lip-puckering center of a kumquat, or the surprisingly nectar-like fruit of a beautiful pink grapefruit.
Citrus trees of every kind are a subtropical plant, and prone to freezing in the winter months. Many home gardeners in every state try their luck at growing citrus, usually dwarf varieties that they can protect from frost. However, commercially, citrus in the United States is grown mainly in California and Florida, where the weather is to its liking.
In both states, citrus farming began in the 1800s. In California, during the Gold Rush of 1849 there was a huge demand for oranges that were used to combat scurvy, which is a vitamin C deficiency. In Florida, the citrus industry is worth billions of dollars to the state, where it produces more oranges than anyplace else in the world. But long before commercial farming of oranges, lemons and the almost countless other varieties of citrus, citrus trees were growing in the Americas in the 1500s, brought in by the Spaniards.
Citrus of all kinds is high in vitamin C, and it is also a good source of other essential nutrients such as potassium, folate, calcium and phosphorus. Citrus is considered a nutrient-dense food and often is prescribed by doctors and dietitians for the prevention and treatment of many illnesses and disorders.
Even though most of us have a favorite lemon- or orange-infused dish, citrus season is the time to try a new variety in a new way. The wonderful juice of almost any citrus fruit can replace the vinegar in a salad dressing, while the plump, juicy flesh itself can be the focal point of a salad or dessert. Surprise your family during this holiday season and put citrus on the menu. It will become a tradition.
SPICED TURKEY CUTLETS WITH GRAPEFRUIT RELISH
- Honey-Grapefruit Relish
- 3 large seedless grapefruit
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Spice Rub for Turkey or Chicken
- 1/4 cup mild chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds turkey cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick) or 4 thin, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Cooking oil spray
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Using a sharp knife, remove skin and white pith from grapefruit and discard. Cut grapefruit segments from the surrounding membrane, letting them drop into a medium-size bowl. Squeeze juice of the remaining flesh of grapefruit membrane into the bowl. Add avocados, onions, cilantro, honey, salt and black pepper. Toss well to combine; set aside.
3. Stir together chili powder, cumin, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, salt and cayenne in a shallow dish. Lightly spray both sides of the meat with cooking oil spray. Dredge the cutlets or breasts in spice mixture, shaking off excess.
4. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add cutlets or breasts and cook, shaking the pan, until they begin to brown on the outside, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the meat over and transfer skillet to the oven. Bake until no longer pink in the center, 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Arrange meat on a platter or individual plates and spoon avocado-grapefruit relish on top. Makes 6 servings.
By Angela Shelf Medearis and Gina Harlow
Visit Angela Shelf Medearis’ website at www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos and recipes Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at www.peachesandprosciutto.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis