Citrus fruit: how to light up lockdown
18 February, 2021 — By Tom Moggach
WE all crave some colour to brighten up lockdown. At this time of year, Yorkshire forced rhubarb – with its neon pink stems – is a tonic for the soul. But for sheer versatility, you can’t beat citrus fruit. Here are some favourite ways for using citrus in the kitchen:
The best fruit are grown around Mount Etna in Sicily, where a dramatic swing between night and daytime temperatures blushes the fruit red. For an invigorating salad, combine blood orange with fennel, red onion, mint and black olives. Slice the fruit and vegetables thinly and add a sprinkle of salt, which balances the acidity. This dish goes beautifully with mozzarella or burrata cheese. Blood oranges also pair well with oily fish such as mackerel.
It’s your last chance for marmalade as the season is fleetingly swift. You can play around with different sugars. Golden granulated, for example, adds a lovely colour. Dark muscovado adds depth of flavour but is best in small doses. You can add grapefruit and lemon to the mix, too.
You can also use the sour juice from Seville oranges in savoury dishes. It’s excellent when making ceviche, the South American dish of raw seafood “cooked” in citrus juice. Or in a vinaigrette salad dressing, replacing the vinegar.
At this time of year, you can find red, pink and white grapefruits. For a retro breakfast, turn your grill to the highest heat. Cut the grapefruit in half, dab on a little butter, sprinkle generously with sugar then flash under the grill under the sugar bubbles and caramelises. Grapefruit is also a marvel in salads – try combining with prawns or salmon or with bitter leaves such as chicory and radicchio.
Many dishes benefit from a squeeze of lemon – their lively acidity fires up the senses. Here’s a simple pasta dish, ideal with spaghetti or linguini. Cook the pasta; meanwhile, gently sweat garlic and red chilli in a frying pan; drain the pasta and tip this in; add a knob of butter, a grating of parmesan and squeeze of lemon juice; toss in basil or parsley if you have it. Serve with a grating of lemon zest and more parmesan.
For a refreshing drink, there are many riffs on lemonade. Add herbs such as mint, rosemary or lavender. Or mix lemon juice with other citrus – maybe lime and grapefruit. The basic lemonade recipe involves making a sugar syrup by gently heating equal parts of sugar and water until dissolved. Once cooled, add to the juice and dilute to taste with still or sparkling water.
If you are daydreaming of far-flung holidays, try this recipe for a honey and basil daiquiri. Chill a Martini glass or similar. Fill a cocktail shaker with 25ml of freshly squeezed lime juice, one tablespoon of runny honey, around a dozen torn basil leaves and 50ml of golden or white rum. Shake hard, strain and serve. These quantities are for one – scale up as necessary. Cheers!