In honor of those of you still struggling with the Infinite Winter of 2011 (indeed, snow was coming down quite fervently yesterday as I was trying to come back from Indianapolis after a gig – isn’t it the end of March?!), here is a simple and refreshing dessert that evokes the summer that supposedly really will come eventually. I originally made this when Cara Cara navel oranges were first coming out in late January, but if you can still get your hands on some, they’re completely worth it. Cara Caras are sweet like other navels, but they have slightly pinkish flesh, low acid, and a subtle depth of flavor that some other citrus lacks. If you can’t find them, though, just go with the sweetest oranges you can find. (I hope to try this with Valencia oranges as well, which are my favorite to just cut into wedges and eat.)
I was slightly skeptical of the “Dreaming-of-Summer Oranges” recipe in Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, because I hadn’t really ever thought of having anything other than unadulterated oranges. (I’m a Florida girl, after all.) However, Gina DePalma’s description of lounging on a beach with a handsome Italian man made it impossible not to try. I have to admit that even if all of the recipes end up horribly disastrous (which I seriously doubt!), this cookbook is worth having just for her vivid and often sensual descriptions of Italy, desserts, and ingredients.
Recipe: Oranges with Olive Oil and Coarse Salt
Summary: from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen
- 3-4 Cara Cara navel oranges (or the sweetest oranges you can find)
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs very high quality extra virgin olive oil
- Large-crystal sea salt
- Wash the oranges and cut them into wedges with the skin on. In a large bowl, toss the orange wedges with the sugar and let sit for about ten minutes to let the juices release.
- Transfer the oranges to a large plate or serving platter, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt.
I used recently pressed, local olive oil, but I would think that a high-quality Greek olive oil would be excellent, since it has a bit of a fruity flavor to it.
Cooking time (duration): 10
Number of servings (yield): 4
I loved how the subtle complexity of the Cara Caras was brought out by the combination of small amounts of sugar and salt – and the olive oil rounded out the flavors to make this healthy dessert feel quite decadent. You would have thought it was cake based on how quickly they disappeared!