Two seasonal ingredients have landed in the kitchen this week and both are brightly-coloured, bringing a little sunshine into this grey, cold time of year.
They are long stems of pink rhubarb and neatly-wrapped blood oranges both bursting with tart flavour which will go well in sweet or savoury dishes.
Poached rhubarb with a wobbly custard tart or roasted with pigeon breasts with land cress, possibly a classic crumble, maybe a compote to go with potted pork, the ideas are endless which makes cooking in season so more enjoyable.
Inside that quite normal-looking skin – the colour of which gives the fruit its name, or is it the other way around – is the beautiful flesh.
The citrus-red specked flesh has just the right balance of sweetness to sharpness, making it great to juice or cook with, let alone just eat.
And for a light dessert, a splash of Campari with the juice makes for a lovely jelly – something a bit different yet still special enough to end a dinner party with.
I have also reduced the juice with a little wine and shallots and whisked in butter to make a silky blood orange sauce.
It was wonderful paired with fresh red mullet. Blood orange also works really well in salads.
Here is a simple recipe using great fresh ingredients which would be good as a starter or a light lunch.
Blood orange and fennel salad
2 blood oranges
1 fennel bulb
4 spring onions
1 celery stick
40ml extra virgin olive oil
20g pistachio nuts (roasted and chopped)
50g soft crumbly ewes’ or goats’ cheese
1. Slice the fennel bulb very finely and put into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 minutes and then cover with water and ice
2. Segment the oranges over a bowl to capture the juice and squeeze the core to extract the remaining juice
3. Thinly slice the spring onions and celery into 6cm lengths
4. Whisk the olive oil into the juice and season to make your dressing
5. Remove the fennel from the iced water and mix with the celery and spring onion
6. Add the orange segments and some of the dressing
7. Arrange on plates and top with the pistachio nuts and cheese
8. Sprinkle over a little more dressing and serve.