I’ve been known to brag that my compost pile smells like citrus. I do go through quite a lot of citrus fruits in my kitchen, and I’ve never met a type I didn’t like. So, it was no surprise that the new book Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and the Sour by Catherine Phipps has a lot of recipes I want to try. And, it’s such a pretty book with a bold, orange-yellow cover and full-page photos of several of the fresh- and zesty-looking dishes. In some cases, the citrus is the main ingredient, in others it’s a necessary flavor component, and the ingredient involved may be the zest, the fruit, or the leaves. I’ll definitely be trying the Barbecued Halloumi in Lemon Leaves as soon as my trees look happy and full of new greenery for the spring. And, the Sprouting Broccoli with Blood Orange Hollandaise is a twist on this sauce that I’ve never thought to try before. The Coconut, Lime, and Lemongrass Chicken Salad with radishes, carrot, and zucchini looks like a winner, and Roast Vegetables with Feta and Orange would be great as a side or a vegetarian main dish. The Desserts chapter has me craving Mandarin Creme Caramel and Blackberry, Orange, and Orange Blossom Clafoutis. There are also recipes for marmalades, jellies, candied zest and peel, and drinks with citrus. Since burrata always stops me in my tracks and since blood orange season is nearing the end, I had try the Blood Orange, Burrata, and Freekeh Salad.
This salad highlights the blood oranges with pretty slices placed front and center, but there’s also bergamot zest and juice adding flavor to the freekeh. This was my first time using bergamots. They appear late in citrus season, and I feel kind of lucky to have found them the day I was looking. Their fragrance is citrusy-floral and a bit like that of lemon blossoms. If they’re not available, lemon zest and juice is the best substitute. The freekeh was soaked in water, drained, and then cooked with garlic and bergamot zest. Once tender, the bergamot juice was added, and the freekeh was left to stand for a few minutes before being drained. Red onion wedges were sauteed in olive oil, and chard was cooked until just wilted. To serve, the freekeh was spread on a platter, onions and chard were added on top, peeled and sliced blood oranges were added, and pieces of burrata were nestled into place. Last, a drizzle of olive oil went over everything, and I garnished with parsley leaves rather than mint because that’s what I had available in my herb garden.
Blood oranges with burrata is a wonderful thing, and the chard and nutty freekeh were great with that combination. I quickly fell for the flavor and perfume of bergamots which were a lovely addition to the grain. A lot more citrus pieces will be added to my compost as I cook more from this book, and it’s going to smell amazing.
Blood Orange, Burrata and Freekeh Salad
Recipe excerpted with permission from Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and the Sour by Catherine Phipps, published by Quadrille April 4, 2017.
100g / 2/3 cup freekeh
600ml / 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated bergamot zest (or lemon zest)
Juice of 1/2 bergamot (or lemon)
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 small red onions, sliced vertically into thin wedges
A large bunch of chard, shredded
3 1/2 tbsp water
2 large blood or blush oranges, peeled and sliced, any juice squeezed from the peel reserved
1 large or 2 small burrata
A handful of mint leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
This is a very happy confluence of ingredients; smoky nuttiness from the freekeh, earthiness from the chard, a creamy sweetness from the burrata, all pulled together by the fragrant, sweet-sour citrus. The bergamot is purely optional as its flavour is subtle here, but if you can, please do: bergamots are still in season (just) when blood oranges come in, so it should be possible to find them. Use lemon zest instead if not.
First cook the freekeh. Soak it in plenty of cold water for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly. Put in a medium saucepan with the stock, garlic and zest. Season with salt, then bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until cooked – it should be plumped up but still with some bite. Add the bergamot juice and leave to stand for a few minutes before straining.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion wedges and sauté over a medium heat until starting to turn translucent – you want them softened but not completely collapsed. Add the chard, along with the water, and cook over a gentle heat until the chard has wilted down and the stems are still al dente. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the freekeh over a large platter and top with the onions and chard. Pour over any reserved juice from the blood oranges – there should be a fair bit. Break up the burrata over the salad, then top with the orange slices and mint leaves. Drizzle over a little olive oil.
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