By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Nature has a way of getting us through the cold and darkness of winter with vibrant fruits and vegetables. The intensely-colored blood orange is a stand-out among them. Generally available between December and May, blood oranges are aptly named for their jewel-like blend of burgundy-wine and orange colors. Citrusy with hints of raspberry sweetness, blood oranges give us another reason to celebrate winter…with snacks, salads, desserts and more that feature them!
Blood Orange Benefits
More than a delightfully sweet and colorful fruit, the intriguing blood orange also offers some pretty powerful health benefits. Rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, blood oranges contain high levels of anthocyanins – antioxidant flavonoids (also found in cherries and grapes) that help protect the body against free radical stress. These anthocyanins are what give blood oranges their characteristic crimson color. Additionally, blood oranges also contain vitamin A, folic acid and calcium, which collectively help support immunity, bone health, and the production of new cells.
So go ahead and taste gorgeousness while boosting your immunity and overall health…with this blood orange salad recipe!
Blood Orange Salad Recipe (with Various Olive Oil Dressings)
Recipe – Serves 2:
- 2 to 4 blood oranges, peeled (to avoid clingy rinds, may want to cut the peel off for a more jewel-like appearance)
- ½ small red onion, sliced into thin rings
- 2 to 4 Tbsp organic cheese – goat, feta or ricotta salata (goat cheese adds more creamy texture while feta and ricotta salata are saltier and more crumbly)
- ½ to 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Parsley, as garnish
- Sea salt blend, pepper blend
Peel or slice peel off, and divide 1-3 of the oranges into segments. Slice the remaining orange into circular rounds, so you get 2-3 blood orange wheels for each plate (or serving bowl). Spread the oranges over each plate, then add a scant layer of red onion slices. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of each plate, then add a few sprigs of parsley, and a few grinds each of salt blend and pepper blend.
Now for the dressing…you’ll need:
- Extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed spicy olive oil – jalapeño or habanero flavored
- Optional – a smidge of raw honey (if mixing with the habanero olive oil)
As an olive oil lover, I tend to dress my salads very simply…with extra virgin olive oil, and freshly ground salt and pepper. Since blood oranges are literally bursting with flavor, less tends to be more with blood orange salad dressing.
Black label Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil complements the blood oranges, red onions, and cheese with a luxuriously smooth, buttery flavor. Koroneiki Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds a robust, peppery zing with a hint of bitterness to balance the sweet citrus and sharpness of the red onion. Either way, you’ll have the perfect blood orange salad finish.
That being said, when I’m in the mood for bolder flavor, I’ll use a spicy flavored olive oil instead of classic extra virgin. Jalapeño olive oil is a terrific option when you want a mild-to-medium kick of heat, and habanero olive oil is the cat’s meow when you’re craving something really hot and spicy. From experience, I bring you this caveat…Always start with just a tiny drizzle – like a ½ tsp – of habanero olive oil. A little habanero olive oil truly goes a long way, and you can always add more if you like. A bold drizzle from the get-go can set your blood orange salad on fire! You can be more generous off-the-bat with the jalapeño olive oil.
Another way to enjoy blood orange salad is with a honey-habanero dressing… bold and unapologetic, this dressing brings hot, spicy and sweet to the table. Mix a few tablespoons of EVOO with a dash of habanero oil (again, add a little at first, then more to taste) and up to a 1/2 tsp of raw honey in a jar and shake it well, then drizzle over your salad – nothing hits the spot sometimes like this combo.
And when I am craving that delightful blood orange flavor, but can’t find any blood oranges, my go-to is crushed blood orange olive oil – it’s luscious over green salads – alone or with a smidge of balsamic vinegar – and is also awesome on beet salad. I also like to drizzle it over grilled chicken and seared scallops, and use it to transform plain avocados into guacamole with a subtle citrus twist.
· Tanaka Y, et al. Biosynthesis of plant pigments: anthocyanins, betalains and carotenoids. Plant J. 2008 May;54(4):733-49.
© 2019 Dr. Stephen Sinatra. All rights reserved.