Citrus abounds in winter. Fragrant Meyer lemons weigh down California trees, and tangerines and grapefruits swell in Florida’s groves this time of year. Even if they aren’t local in your area, they are some of the freshest fruits available on grocery store shelves. I used a variety of citrus treasures in place of tomatoes to make a quick salsa and bring a little of that sunny imagery to my winter table. The sweet tang of oranges pairs so well with herbs and chilies to brighten winter fish or balance winter stews.
I especially like this salsa partnered with Moroccan seasonings like cumin and cinnamon. For a cozy main dish, serve it alongside braised chicken with olives or slow-cooked lamb. For a lighter dinner, simply spoon the salsa on top of broiled or grilled fish or shrimp.
If I were planning a special meal, I might take the time to prepare the fruit by cutting each section out of its outer skin. For a family and friends meal though, I simply peel the fruit and chop it as I would for tomato salsa, removing as many seeds as is practical. I used the parsley I have growing inside and a little lemongrass, but cilantro, of course, is the classic herb for salsa. Adjust the heat to the level you enjoy, a half jalapeño or tabasco pepper from my frozen supply is what I use.
Add lime juice if you feel the oranges you’ve used are too sweet. It’s avocado season, too, so you might add a chopped ripe avocado to the salsa. The color combination would be beautiful.
Yield: about 1 cup
- 3 small oranges of any kind (navel, tangelo, blood oranges, tangerines or clementines)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- cilantro to taste
- lemongrass to taste (Use soft inside only.)
- 3 T. olive oil 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp. jalapeño or other hot pepper (or to taste)
- lime juice, to taste
- salt, to taste
Peel oranges, retaining juice and removing seeds. Chop briefly in food processor or by hand, and pour into small bowl. In processor, roughly pulse all other ingredients. Gently toss oranges with herb mix. Allow to mellow for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature.