I adore citrus season. The flavor of effervescent, juicy citrus fruit is like a warm beam of sunlight that melts away the cold of winter, even if just for a moment. It's the time of year when grapefruit, tangerines, Meyer lemons, Key limes, and several varieties of oranges can be found in bright, colorful mounds in many Alaska markets. Not only do I love the variety of citrus fruits, I also love how versatile they are in recipes. Citrus is fantastic in sweet and savory recipes alike, sometimes as the star of the show, like a classic lemon bar, or as the perfect acidic finish to a dish, like an entree highlighting wild Alaska seafood.
I get a great deal of inspiration for recipes from what is fresh and available at my local markets. I recently grabbed several stunning blood oranges and immediately began thinking of what I could make with them. In addition to citrus, February is also the time of year when fresh asparagus begins appearing in vibrant green bundles. Asparagus is always a welcome sign that the days are growing lighter and longer. Because many varieties of citrus overlap into the same season as asparagus, they pair well together in recipes. If you don't have a blood orange on hand for this recipe, feel free to swap it for a lemon instead.
Roasting fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to bring out their flavors. In the hot oven, they get a little brown and a little caramelized, which also brings some texture to the party as well. In addition to being tasty, roasting can also be one of the quickest and simplest ways to cook vegetables. Many roasted vegetables need little more than a toss in extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper to really make their flavors shine. I enjoy roasting just about anything -- from sweet potatoes to brussels sprouts and cauliflower to apples. Roasted asparagus with thinly sliced blood oranges would be a fantastic side dish with wild salmon or halibut. While quick and simple, it makes an impressive presentation and would be ideal to serve to dinner guests.
Citrus roasted asparagus
- 1 pound fresh asparagus
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 blood orange or lemon
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Snap any thick woody root ends off the asparagus shoots. Lay the asparagus in a single layer on the parchment paper and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary leaves. Toss to coat.
- On a cutting board, slice the blood orange in half. Take one of the halves and slice it very thinly, so thinly you can see through it. Place the orange slices around and underneath the asparagus. Take the remaining half of the orange and squeeze some of the juice over the asparagus, reserving some of the juice to squeeze over top just prior to serving. Season the entire pan generously with salt (I like to use coarse kosher or sea salt for this) and pepper.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven until asparagus is browned and crisp-tender, turning the asparagus halfway through cooking. Squeeze fresh blood orange juice over top just prior to serving. Serve hot.
If sliced thinly enough, the blood orange (or lemon) slices can also be eaten when roasted, skin and all.
Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org.