7 Healthy Dinner Recipes Using In-Season Citrus

The sun may set early, and the nights may be cold, but there’s one bright spot in the bleak days before spring: in-season citrus fruits. Many varieties of citrus – including blood oranges, kumquats, and pomelos – are at their freshest and juiciest during the winter months. You can take advantage of nature’s bounty by incorporating these flavorful fruits into main dishes and sides that will bring some color (plus some vitamin C to ward off colds) to your dinner table.

1. Baked Blood Orange Chicken

Blood Orange

Blood oranges | iStock.com

Blood oranges get their name from the bright red color of their flesh. With a slightly sweet flavor, they’re great in cocktails and desserts, but you can also enjoy this brightly colored citrus in your main course, as in this recipe for baked blood orange chicken from The Almond Eater.

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced into strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon citrus seasoning
  • 1 blood orange

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until golden in color. Remove garlic and onions from pan and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the skillet, then add the chicken breasts. Cook, turning once, until slightly browned on each side.

Transfer chicken to an oven-safe baking dish. Pour chicken broth over, then top with the garlic and onion. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, and citrus seasoning.

Cut blood orange in half, then slice one half very thin. Place slices on top of the chicken. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the chicken reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove from oven. Squeeze some juice from the remaining half of the orange and drizzle over the chicken. Serve.

2. Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Kumquat Jalapeño Marmalade

Kumquats

Kumquats | iStock.com

Tiny kumquats are easy to overlook in the produce section, but don’t pass on these petite fruits. You can eat this tart citrus with the peels still on, which makes them an easy addition to this roasted pork tenderloin recipe from Epicurious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups kumquats, stemmed, quartered, seeded
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 small shallots, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies, divided
  • ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each

Directions: Using on/off turns, finely chop kumquats in processor (do not puree).

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, apple, and 1 tablespoon jalapeño. Cook until shallots are soft, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add chopped kumquats, apricots, ¾ cup water, sugar, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Transfer marmalade to small bowl. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons jalapeño. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to skillet; brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer skillet to oven; roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit, about 15 minutes. Remove pork from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

Cut pork into ½-inch-thick slices. Serve with warm marmalade.

3. Kale, Clementine, and Feta Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

fresh salad in a blue dish with fork

Kale salad | iStock.com

Sweet, juicy, and easy to peel, clementines are right at home in salads. This recipe from Cookie and Kate combines the citrus fruit with kale and feta cheese for a healthy and satisfying dish that’s excellent on its own or can be served as side with grilled chicken or fish.

Ingredients:

For the kale salad:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 medium pomegranate, arils removed, or a handful of dried cranberries
  • 4 clementines, peeled and sliced into rounds or small strips
  • 4 small radishes, sliced into thin rounds and then into skinny strips
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

For the honey-lime dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 small limes)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium jalapeño, membranes and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Directions: Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and other ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove the stems from the kale, chop the leaves into bite-size pieces, and transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and massage the kale until the leaves darken.

Drizzle the dressing over the kale and toss until lightly coated. Add the avocado, pomegranate, clementines, radishes, cilantro, and feta.

Place a skillet over medium-low heat and toast the pumpkin seeds for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until they turn fragrant. Add to the salad, toss to combine, then serve.

4. Pomelo Couscous

Two pomelos with white background

Pomelos | iStock.com

Pomelos look a bit like giant, oblong grapefruit, and their taste is similar as well, though slightly more mild and sweet. They also have a fairly thick pith, so it takes some work to get to the juicy fruit inside. Once you do, you can enjoy pomelos in a number of dishes, including this couscous recipe from The Kitchn.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons macadamia oil, divided (or use buttery olive oil or butter)
  • Salt, to taste
  • ½ cup instant couscous
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings (about ½ cup)
  • 1 (1½ -pound) pomelo, peeled and separated into chunks
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade of mint

Directions: Add water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add oil or butter, a dash of salt, and the couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Warm the vegetable oil in a small, heavy pan over medium heat. When a thermometer reads 325 degrees Fahrenheit, add the shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until they are golden brown in color. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain.

Transfer the cooled couscous to a large bowl, then add 1 teaspoon of macadamia oil or butter, salt to taste, and ginger. Mix together using a fork or your hands. Add the segments of pomelo, half of the fried shallots, and mint. (To chiffonade the mint, layer the leaves in a single pile, roll up lengthwise, and then cut across so that you have very fine slices.) Toss to combine. Garnish with the remaining shallots, then serve.

5. Salmon, Spinach, and Oranges in Parchment

Fish in a parcel with vegetables

Salmon in parchment | iStock.com

You can have dinner ready in a snap with this recipe for salmon, spinach, and oranges in parchment from Martha Stewart. Just prepare the packages of fish in the morning or the night before, then pop in the oven when you get home from work.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces baby spinach (8 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, plus 3 oranges, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets (1½ pounds total)
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips (¼ cup)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide spinach among four 16-inch-long pieces of parchment paper. Top with orange zest and slices, salmon, ginger, and shallot; season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.

Bring long ends of paper together and fold down 3 times to make a seam. Tuck ends underneath to secure.

Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until packets are puffed and salmon is cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer packets to plates, pull open, and serve immediately.

6. Creamy Meyer Lemon Pasta

dish of creamy Pasta

Creamy pasta | iStock.com

If traditional lemons are too tart for your taste, you’ll want to try Meyer lemons, which are in season in winter and spring. These fruits, which are a cross between mandarin oranges and regular lemons, and are smaller and sweeter than their more familiar counterparts. Use them to add a bright, citrusy flavor to this creamy pasta dish from Nature Box.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup reduced fat milk
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from about 2 Meyer lemons)
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • Walnuts, toasted, for serving

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the asparagus over it in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine, then roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Whisk in the flour and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and the lemon juice. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens (roughly 2 to 3 minutes). Stir in the lemon zest.

Combine the pasta, sauce, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese in a large bowl. Garnish with walnuts if you like and serve immediately.

7. Scallops with Grapefruit and Bacon

seared scallops

Scallops | iStock.com

Tart grapefruit and savory bacon come together with meaty scallops for a light dinner that’s not short on flavor. Plus, cooking everything in one pan makes prep and clean-up that much easier. Recipe from Food and Wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 3 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1-by-¼-inch matchsticks
  • 1¼ pounds sea scallops (about 20)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • ½ cup sauvignon blanc
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions: Using a sharp knife, peel the grapefruit, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the sections. Squeeze the juice from the membrane into another bowl; you should have about 3 tablespoons of juice.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a small plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.

Season the scallops with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Turn the scallops, add the onion and cook over moderate heat until the scallops are just cooked through, 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.

Add the wine and grapefruit juice to the skillet and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Cook, scraping up any browned bits. Strain the liquid into a heatproof cup, then return it to the skillet. Add the capers and butter and cook, shaking the pan, until the sauce is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the scallops and any juices to the skillet; turn to coat them with the sauce. Add the grapefruit sections and bacon and serve right away.

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