Thursday, November 12, 2015

20 Delicious Ways to Use Fresh Citrus in Your Thanksgiving Feast

What’s your favorite holiday? Although my children’s wild enthusiasm for Halloween is infectious, and I love all the sweet family traditions of Christmas, there’s something about Thanksgiving that’s really won my heart over the years. It’s funny, because it wasn’t at all my favorite when I was a child. In fact, I have to confess that I once considered the day stuffy and boring. But as I’ve grown older, the simple pleasure of gathering with friends and family for a day of togetherness and delicious food has come to mean a lot to me.

I’m only halfway a traditionalist when it comes to the food on the table at Thanksgiving, though. There had better be stuffing and pie, but I definitely like to mix things up and try new recipes. One dish I do find it hard to be without is my mother’s simple cranberry relish. There’s nothing especially fancy about it—in fact, the recipe comes off the back of the cranberry bag—but its bright tang is a perfect complement to the other rich flavors on the Thanksgiving plate. What makes the relish perfect is the inclusion of a whole seeded orange.

As a matter of fact, seasonal citrus marries beautifully with every course on your Thanksgiving table. Dishes featuring fresh Florida oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit add a light, bright note to what can be a heavy meal. These fruits have just come into season and are fresh, juicy, sweet, and at their peak. The gorgeous fall color is another beautiful bonus. Read on for a cornucopia of delicious ways to incorporate fresh, seasonal citrus into your Thanksgiving celebration. You’ll want to make these recipes a new tradition.

At the Table

What could be easier and prettier than using fresh citrus? Try a wooden bowl full of fresh oranges and pine cones, or a rustic table runner set about with oranges, tangerines, small gourds, greenery, and candles. If you’re setting a more formal table, small tangerines or Page oranges tagged with names cards (wrap the fruit in pretty tissue paper, then tie with decorative twine and attach the tag) make for gorgeous named settings, with a small gift built in.

To whet their whistles
Cranberry-orange mulled wine is truly a special holiday treat.
This cranberry-orange mulled wine, made with Cabernet sauvignon, brandy, spices, and fresh- sliced oranges, is a special, deeply warming treat, perfect for celebrating. It can be served cold as a sangria if you’re living the Florida lifestyle! After dinner, try this bourbon citrus hot toddy, made in the slow cooker for the ease of the bartender. And for those who prefer not to drink alcohol, how about this refreshing Grapefruit Mojito “mocktail” or a “virgin mimosa”--a mix of sparkling white grape juice and freshly-squeezed orange juice?

Gorgeous salads

Every Thanksgiving table needs at least one beautiful colorful salad to balance out all the turkey and buttery side dishes. Don’t make this an afterthought—instead, embrace the beauty of winter produce and fruits and create a gorgeously bright, refreshing dish, like this beet and tangerine salad with cranberry dressing, this crisp but luscious platter of oranges, fennel, and avocado, or this showstopper citrus-kale salad, featuring goat cheese, ruby red grapefruit, baby kale, and a fresh orange juice dressing.
Oranges can add a splash of flavor and color to any salad.

The Main Affair

Citrus is a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving bird.
Citrus also pairs perfectly with poultry! This brandy and tangerine-glazed roasted turkey includes so many delectable sounding ingredients—fresh tangerines, tangerine marmalade, and fresh sage, chives, rosemary and thyme—wow! The dish starts off with a cider and citrus brine. If you haven’t tried this technique, you really should—it makes for a moist, well-seasoned bird. If that tangerine masterpiece seems like too much, go simple and opt for just the brine and roasting, or try this one (which uses only the orange peels, so you get the juice and flesh for another purpose).
But wait…have you got vegetarian guests this year? Even a vegan? Never fear. These citrus-tamari tofu steaks with rosemary and warm satsumas (feel free to sub in tangerines if that’s what you have) are fast and easy and absolutely Thanksgiving-appropriate, even for those who do not eat dairy, egg, or grains.

On the side

Citrus pairs naturally with sweet potatoes, carrots, or squash. This year, why not try out this citrus candied yams recipe, made a bit lighter and brighter with the tang of fresh orange? And if you enjoy carrots at Thanksgiving, these citrus maple-glazed ones (roasted in the oven with tangerines!) look delectable. Not everyone love brussel sprouts, but for those who do (and I’m one!), these orange-glazed brussel sprouts with butternut squash will look irresistible. Finally, let’s not forget the cranberry sauce, since cranberry and orange are meant for each other. If you enjoy a cooked version, this simple orange-cranberry sauce will be the perfect accompaniment to your bird. But if you’d like my mom’s classic recipe, the one it isn’t Thanksgiving without in my book, here it is. It’s so simple, but adds sparkle to your plate.

Room for Dessert?
Cranberry-orange cakes are festive show-stoppers!

You’ve tried pineapple upside-down cake, but what about a citrus upside-down cake? This simple but beautiful recipe can feature oranges, grapefruit, tangerines or clementines, and would be wonderful with whipped cream or ice cream. Hosting guests who eat gluten-free? This moist, fragrant almond-based tangerine cake has no exotic flours or ingredients; it’s based on an old Spanish recipe that’s naturally flour-free, and every guest will love it. No one can resist a pecan pie, but if you’d like to gild the lily, try this bourbon-orange pecan pie. Finally, if you didn’t make that cranberry-orange sauce for a side dish, or even if you did, why not add this beautifully festive cranberry-orange cake to your holiday dessert table? The taste is pure holiday season.

I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely starving now and can’t wait for Thanksgiving to come. The only problem is that I’m really not sure how to choose which of these incredible-sounding recipes to make—maybe all of them? Enjoy the bounty of fresh Florida citrus around your holiday table.

Want to be notified when we post more articles? Sign up for our mailing list!

© 1996-2013 Vegetable Kingdom Inc., PO Box 530456, St. Petersburg, FL 33747 All rights reserved.
Florida Fruit Shippers® is a registered trademark of Vegetable Kingdom Inc.