Blood Oranges

by Alison Boyd

One of the most welcome sights in winter is the dazzling array of citrus fruits on display at the market. For just a few short months, vibrant oranges, tangerines, lemons and grapefruits are at their peak ripeness. While I love them all, I am at my happiest when I come upon a pile of blood oranges, with their crimson flesh and tart sweet flavor. This all-star fruit can be sliced into a salad, juiced for a cocktail and baked in a cake. Our winter blood orange salad makes a wonderful light supper or first course, and the easy upside-down cake is a perfect follow up, served with a generous dollop of sweetened whipped cream on the side.

Winter Blood Orange Salad with Candied Walnuts

This salad combines a wonderful blend of crunch with sweet and sour flavors. Feel free to play around with the ingredients. I have also added thinly sliced red onions, substituted arugula for the radicchio, and creamy La Tur cheese in place of the Burrata. You can leave out the avocado, but do not mess with the winning combination of oranges and endive. The more readily available Cara Cara variety of orange makes a perfect stand-in for blood oranges. 

Blood Orange Walnut Dressing

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup of fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1 tbs. white wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp. clear honey
1 ½ tbs. walnut oil
½ tsp. salt

Up to one hour before serving, whisk all the ingredients together and set aside at room temperature. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 12 hours and brought to room temperature an hour before assembling the salad.

Candied Walnuts

1 cup walnut pieces
1½ tbs. butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes, making sure they do not burn. Set aside to cool. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the nuts, butter and sugar in a non-stick pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is totally dissolved and forms a dark, amber-colored caramel. Stir in the pinch of salt, then quickly pour the mixture onto the parchment paper in a thin layer. Using a metal spoon, quickly separate the walnuts. You will have about 30 seconds to do this before the mixture sets hard. When the walnuts are cool, place in an airtight container and store for up to two weeks. These nuts are highly addictive and do not last long in my house!

The Salad

4 blood oranges, thinly sliced, seeds, white pith and peel removed
2 large heads of white (Belgian) endive, washed and leaves separated
8 radicchio leaves, torn into pieces
1 ½ avocados, halved, pitted and sliced crosswise
8 ounces of burrata cheese, torn into large pieces

About 10 minutes before serving, place the blood orange and avocado slices in the center of a large platter, layering the radicchio and endive leaves around the outside. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with sea salt. Just before serving, top with the cheese and sprinkle with candied walnuts. Serve with warm crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

I have adapted this cake from a favorite recipe featured in Food & Wine magazine. Their version is made with Meyer lemons, which have a short season and can be hard to come by. The original is wonderful, but blood oranges make a great substitute, as their tangy flavor pairs well with the sweet brown sugar caramel. If you have any of those candied walnuts left over, sprinkle them on top.


¾ cup plus 2 tbs. light brown sugar
1 ½ cups butter plus 1 tbs., softened
4 blood oranges, thinly sliced, seeds, white pith and peel removed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
¾ cup whole milk
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Sweetened whipped cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt 5 tbs. of butter in a small heavy pan. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour into a 9-inch cake pan and arrange the sliced blood oranges over the mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.

In a stainless-steel bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at high speed until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then fold in the rest. Pour the batter over the oranges and caramel and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with the whipped cream.

Alison Boyd ran a catering business in her native London before working as a private chef in Bridgehampton. She has since decamped to the North Fork.

East End Beacon
The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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