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Citrus fruit adds sunshine to hearty winter meals

  • Detroit Free Press
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at 10:08 p.m.

Juicing

You can get more juice out of limes (or lemons) by microwaving them for 20 seconds or by rolling them around under your palm on the countertop. As you press down, the segments break down, releasing more juice. You can also use a fork to poke the segments. Freeze any leftover juice in ice cube trays. Once frozen, place the cubes in a freezer bag.

Segmenting

Here’s an easy way to cut oranges and grapefruits into segments. Use a serrated knife to cut a slice off each end of the fruit, revealing some of the flesh. Stand the fruit on one cut end. Starting at the top of the fruit and cutting to the bottom, slice off pieces of peel along with the pith (you will get some of the flesh), following the curve of the fruit.

Once you’ve removed the peel all around, cut off any remaining pith. To cut into segments, hold the fruit in your hand over a bowl to catch the juices. Cut on each side of the membrane all the way to the core to cut out the segment. Once you have cut out all the segments, squeeze what you have left to release more juice.

Zesting

Zesting means to remove pieces of the outer rind of the fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.). The rind has aromatic oils that enhance and flavor foods. The white pithy part under the peel is bitter.

If a recipe calls for the “zest of one lemon,” that means to remove strips of rind from the whole lemon. If the recipe calls for grated lemon zest, you should grate the rind on a box grater, a zester or a rasp-style grater.

Store thin or wide strips of lemon zest and grated lemon zest in a freezer-safe container or plastic sealable bag. It will keep for several months.

Several kitchen tools remove the zest of lemons easily to avoid the pith. Here are a few:

•  Rasp-style zesters and graters. We prefer Microplane-style graters. Their sharp teeth make removing the peel a snap; a swipe of a lemon yields feathery pieces of zest. Graters come in several sizes, colors and styles, producing fine to coarse grates.

•  Citrus zesters. These typically have five tiny but sharp holes in their tips. When you pull the zester across the fruit, little strips of peel come off.

•  Vegetable peelers. Using a peeler that is not super sharp so it doesn’t dig too deep into the fruit.

CITRUS SALAD WITH DATES AND WALNUTS

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, December 2012 issue

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup chopped dates

Boiling water

4 tablespoons blood orange or Clementine juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, optional

Salt to taste

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup Clementine, blood orange or red grapefruit segments

5 cups salad greens

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

In heatproof bowl, cover dates with boiling water; let sit for 5 minutes. Strain, reserving 1 teaspoon of the liquid. Place the reserved liquid in a bowl and add the juice, olive oil, vinegar, cumin and salt to taste. Add dates, onion and Clementine segments; toss with greens and nuts and serve.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Jan. 23, 2013

RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT, HEARTS OF PALM AND SHRIMP SALAD

From Eating Well Magazine, January/February 2013 issue.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

4 red or pink grapefruit, segmented (see tip, below)

8 ounces peeled cooked small shrimp

1 can (14 ounces) hearts of palm, drained and sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup sliced green olives

1/4 teaspoon salt

After segmenting grapefruit, squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl. Add shrimp, hearts of palm, cilantro, onion, olives and salt; stir to combine. Serve room temperature or chilled.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Jan. 23, 2013

Things are looking bright and sunny in grocery stores, thanks to the sweet citrus selection this time of year.

Eating more fruit is a great way to kick off the new year on a healthy note and cook in season.

Plenty of options are available. There are the snack-size mandarins — such as Clementines and Satsumas — that are sweet and easy to eat. Cara Caras are navel oranges with a tangy and sweet balance.

Blood oranges, anyone? These are prized for their cranberry tones and their deep red flesh.

And don’t forget the old standbys: grapefruit, temple oranges and tangelos. All are suitable for eating out of hand, for juicing and for use in cooking. Think vinaigrettes, salads, and pairings with fish and chicken.

Larissa Shain, registered dietitian at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital in Pontiac, Mich., says the citrus season isn’t just about the orange family: Don’t forget about lemons and limes.

“By using the juices from the lemons and limes, you can use less salt in what you’re making,” Shain says.

For example, she says, if you make chili (using no-salt-added tomatoes and tomato sauce, of course), stir in a squeeze of lemon or lime just before serving. It will enhance and bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.

“When I was researching ways of lowering sodium, I found that citrus juices activate the same receptors on your tongue as salt does,” Shain says. “So you get that flavor without using salt.”

Citrus is a terrific source of vitamin C and high in antioxidants, but it’s also a good source of potassium, which Shain says helps lower blood pressure and the risk for stroke.

“The combination of lower sodium and increasing potassium found naturally in citrus fruits helps lower the blood pressure even more,” Shain says.

So go ahead and add a little citrusy sunshine to those hearty winter dishes. Your body and spirit will thank you.

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