Super Orange Citrus Rice

This incredible citrus rice is flooded with orange juice, flecked with celery and carrots, and boosted with a packet of French onion dip mix. It’s beautiful, delicious, and if you’re in a rice or grain rut, it’s just the thing to get you out of it. This Super Orange Citrus Rice is also the perfect […]

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This incredible citrus rice is flooded with orange juice, flecked with celery and carrots, and boosted with a packet of French onion dip mix. It’s beautiful, delicious, and if you’re in a rice or grain rut, it’s just the thing to get you out of it. This Super Orange Citrus Rice is also the perfect base for a rice bowl, and I love using leftovers the next day for a citrusy-y take on fried rice.

Super Orange Citrus Rice in a Serving Bowl
I cook rice a couple times a week. Half the time I’ll make it straight and simple – water, rice, and a bit of salt. The other times I like to mix it up with different broths, infusions, and favorite flavors, ingredients and textures. A lot of you know how much I love a good rice situation – I included a whole section of ideas in the back of Super Natural Simple. I also constantly revisit Bryant Terry’s Amazing Green Rice, this Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric, and this herby rice situation. Recently, this super orange citrus rice has been in high-rotation. Here are the details!Super Orange Citrus Rice in a Kitchen on a Counter

Citrus Rice Inspiration

One of the things I love about flea markets, estate and yard sales is finding and browsing old cookbooks. I come across a lot of community cookbooks, and always have my eyes peeled for books that are special, unusually, and/or regionally specific. Today’s recipe was inspired by a cookbook I picked up a few years ago, published by Sunkist in 1968. It is cover-to-cover recipes that are citrus inspired – note the sub-title: lemons, tangerines – citrus treasures of the west – oranges, grapefruits. 

A few of the recipes caught my attention. In particular, there is an orange rice recipe that calls for “instant minced onions.” I imagined that would add a nice seasoning element to a citrus rice. I tend to keep French onion soup mix on hand to make the French Onion Strata in Super Natural Simple, and have dehydrated onions in my pantry as well.  Today’s recipe evolved from there. I love the way the onion helps counter the sweetness of the orange juice, keeping the whole dish squarely in the savory camp.
Super Orange Citrus Rice Surrounded by Plates and Ready to Eat
Super Orange Citrus Rice Surrounded by Plates and Ready to Eat

What Kind of Rice to Use?

I’ve been using brown basmati rice for this recipe. Short grain brown rice should also work, you might need to adjust the cooking time a bit though. I’ve tested a blend of half brown basmati with half white basmati and it wasn’t great. Unsurprisingly, the white grains really blew out and over cooked while the brown rice grains finished cooking.

The general rule of thumb here is yes, you can likely use your favorite rice, whatever it is. You should simply adjust the amount of liquid and cooking time according to whatever you typically use for 2 cups of rice. So, for example, if you’re using 2 cups of white rice, scale back the orange juice and water called for in the recipe from 4 cups to 3 cups (or 3 1/4 cups total liquid). Hope that makes sense. It’s a long way of saying you can likely make this with success with whatever rice you have on hand.

Super Orange Citrus Rice Surrounded by Plates and Ready to Eat

Make Citrus Rice into a Meal

You can easily add another hearty element to this rice and make a one bowl meal. You see the citrus rice pictured here topped with a bit of simply marinated, baked tofu. It’s just slabs of thinly sliced extra-firm tofu tossed in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon wasabi paste, and 2 teaspoons soy sauce and baked until golden in a 375F oven. Wasabi paste can be tricky to come by, and when I’m out of it I’ll substitute a favorite curry paste or tobanjan paste. Throw some broccoli or cauliflower florets into the oven with the tofu for some added veg.

Alternately, I like to make a thin omelette with an egg or two, slice it thinly, and use that in place of the tofu. And before I forget, if your celery is extra leafy, be sure to make your own celery salt! It’s really wonderful on this rice, but also on all sorts of soups and salads.

Leftover Ideas

This recipe makes a good amount of citrus rice, and we often have leftovers. It’s SO good the next day, perfect for a quick fried rice for lunch, or easy dinner. The citrus element is really fantastic and unexpected if you aren’t in the know. 

If you’re looking for more rice recipes I have so many ideas. Laugh/cry. Be sure to try this green rice, my favorite mushroom casserole,  and this vegetarian take on paellaI also love cooking with quinoa, cooking with lentils, and on the citrus recipe front, don’t miss this citrus salt – it’s so much fun to play around with a range of limes, lemons, grapefruits, and tangerines! Enjoy! -h

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Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad

Warm, coin-shaped slices of pan-fried carrots, white beans, and herbs tossed with a tangy-sweet lemon shallot dressing. It tastes good the day you make it, even better the day after.

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I bought a single bunch of bushy-topped carrots the other day. At first glance it was a good looking cluster – bright orange in color with vibrant greens still attached. But it was on second glance that I noticed the tiny carrots nestled beside their larger brothers and sisters. Some of the smallest carrots were no thicker than a knitting needle, not much longer than my pinky finger. I snacked on those after a quick rinse. The bigger guys I put to work in this skillet-tossed, herb-flecked white bean salad.
Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad Recipe

A Simple Skillet Bean Salad

This recipe isn’t complicated. Warm, coin-shaped slices of golden, pan-fried carrots, white beans and chopped herbs are tossed with a tangy-sweet lemon shallot dressing. It tastes good the day you make it, even better the day after. And although it’s certainly not as pretty, in my opinion, it might taste best on day three as the shallots infused the beans and the lemon mellowed.

Carrots and beans in a cast iron skillet

The Details

  • Carrots: When shopping for carrots, look for young carrots with their greens still attached. This is one way you can get a good sense of whether the bunch is fresh or not. Can you use standard grocery store carrots? Sure! Look for bunches with smaller carrots if possible. Or if those aren’t available, trim your carrot coins into half moons.
  • Beans: On the bean front, I tend to cook the beans from scratch. I like a creamy, smallish white bean for this salad. Alubia beans,  Peruano beans, and cannellini beans have all worked great. And yes! You can use well-drained canned white beans if you want to throw this together on a whim.
  • Herbs: I starting making this bean salad with dill. I like how dill is always a bit unexpected, and it works beautifully to cut the creaminess of the white beans, while maintaining an ability to stand up to the shallots and lemon juice. Basil is a nice alternative if you’re out of dill. Cilantro is great. I mean it’s hard to go wrong with your herb component. Use what you have.

Baby carrots and white beans

Make a Meal of It

This recipe has now been in our repertoire for a few years. One of my favorite things to do is make a double batch. It can hang out in the refrigerator for a couple days, no problem, and makes a great side to many meals. That said, I often turn it into a favorite dinner. Tossing the bean salad with any short pasta like penne, radiatore, or rigatoni and a bit of goat cheese is fantastic. To get a bolt of green into in the mix I often add broccoli florets, or asparagus segments to the pasta water at the last minute. Re-season with salt and lemon juice if needed.

Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad in a Pink Bowl border=

Variations

There are so many different ways to re-mix this bean salad. Once you have the base of skillet beans and carrots, playing around with the dressing can take it in dramatically different directions. For example, you can skip the lemony-shallot dressing and use a thinned out pesto instead. The crushed walnut sauce I use here is another option.  I’ve also done a roasted red pepper puree thinned out with olive oil and boosted with cayenne for another twist.

Rachel D. mentioned in the comments, “…I added fava beans that I found at the UN Plaza farmers market (I thought fava season was over but I guess not!) and some preserved lemon. Also added less than the 2 tb sugar and it was sweet enough.” Love this idea.

Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad on a Table with Two Glasses

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TLT Sandwich

A vegetarian TLT sandwich inspired by the classic BLT sandwich. This version includes chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce, and a generous avocado slather on a thin slice (or two) of great bread.

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At this point in time, no other sandwich I make is more requested. Instead of a classic BLT sandwich, I make a TLT – tempeh, lettuce, and tomato. Not an original concept, but my secret is this…every component needs to be over-the-top flavorful. Roasted Tomatoes for TLT Sandwich
My version features chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce and a generous slather of avocado on a thin slice (or two) of great bread. For anyone looking for a hearty, substantial, satisfying, nutritious, and meatless lunch – it’s hard to beat .
Side View of Epic TLT Sandwich
You’ll need to plan ahead a bit to marinate the tempeh and roast the tomatoes, but I promise it’s well worth the effort, and if you make extra you’ll have sandwiches for the week. Tempeh is easy to find in most Whole Foods Markets or natural food stores – here’s a link to another favorite tempeh recipe in case you are interested in other ways of using it.
Side View of Epic TLT Sandwich

I enjoy this TLT sandwich on a big, ultra-thin slice of whole wheat walnut bread – toasted until crisp. You can go the traditional sandwich route, or enjoy it open-faced. And now I’m thinking that miniature versions of these might be great bite-sized party food? 

If you’re game for more tempeh inspiration, don’t miss out on these tempeh recipes. And be sure to pay special attention to this Spicy Tempeh Crumble Bowl, and this Tempeh Taco Salad

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Garlic Lime Lettuce Wraps

Ginger and garlic tempeh rice, folded into lime-spiked lettuce wraps with lots of herbs, cucumber, and carrots. A one-pan meal that comes together in no time!

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Lettuce wraps are a fave around here (and a nice change from taco night). This has become a favorite weeknight meal. Ginger and garlic tempeh rice, folded into lime-spiked lettuce wraps with lots of herbs, cucumber, and carrots. It’s a one-pan meal that comes together in no time!

Garlic Lime Lettuce Wraps

A couple of tips related to this recipe. If you find a tempeh brand you like, buy it in multiples. It freezes really well. Also, I like to make these lettuce wraps with brown rice that I’ve blended with other grains – like a little bit of millet, and quinoa. But, brown jasmine rice on it’s own is also A+! Experiment with toppings – a sprinkling of toasted nuts, or even a dollop of guacamole is always good.

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How To Cook Quinoa

How to cook quinoa perfectly, every time. You can use it in everything from salads and bowls, stews and sourdough, or any of my 20 favorite quinoa recipes highlighted below.

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If you know how to cook quinoa perfectly, you’re on your way to a wide range of amazing meals. It’s a fantastic adventure to cook your way through the world’s wonderful heirloom grains (and grain-like seeds), and quinoa is one of them. The trick to nailing the perfect fluffy pot of quinoa is using the right ratio of water to quinoa and knowing a few little tricks. While I initially purchased quinoa for its nutritional perks (of which there are many) I kept purchasing it for its grassy taste and fluffed up, creamy-while-crunchy texture.
Favorite Quinoa Recipe

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa [Keen-wah] is a fantastic grain to utilize in year-round cooking. It has long been celebrated as a nutritional powerhouse – protein-rich, delicious, and charmingly versatile. Technically not a true grain, it is related botanically to Swiss chard and beets, but it is grain-like in spirit when it comes to cooking.

Which Color Quinoa is Best?

Quinoa grows in a wide range of colors. The most commonly available in the U.S. are red, brown, black, and ivory. You can also buy tri-color blends of quinoas. Most quinoa tastes very similar to me. White often cooks up fluffiest. The colors have very similar nutritional profiles, although I suspect red and black quinoa have increased phytonutrients. Black can also take a few extra minutes to cook. The biggest difference to me is visual impact. I tend to go with the ivory quinoa if making a meal for someone who might not be a very adventurous eater, or picky kids. The light colored quinoa tends to blend or bake right into things seamlessly. That said, I love the visual punch colored quinoa delivers to pizza crusts, muffins, grain bowls, and the like. So that’s usually my choice.

Why Do I Need to Rinse Quinoa?

This is a thing. Always rinse quinoa before using to remove bitter saponin coating (which the plant produces to deter  birds and insects).

Quinoa Cooking Basics

  • What kind of quinoa should I buy? Consider sourcing fair-trade and organic quinoa. This supports local farm communities, and helps preserve the health and integrity of the land and farming communities.
  • Can I use a rice cooker to cook quinoa? Yes, absolutely. Use the following water (or broth) to quinoa ratio and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Can I use a donabe to cook quinoa? Yes! I use my clay pot donabe to cook quinoa often. Use gentle heat, the ratio below, and the same technique you would use to cook rice.
  • How much water to quinoa should I use? This has been an ever-evolving issue for me over the years. And I’ve landed on 1 cup quinoa to 1 2/3 cups liquid. A steady, gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, covered, will result in a beautiful pot of quinoa. Just fluff with a fork and enjoy.

Get Creative! Cook Your Quinoa with Flavor

Nearly every basic quinoa recipe will instruct you to use water to cook your quinoa. I think this is great advice your first few times through. You can get a real sense of the flavor of quinoa by keeping it simple. Just know, there is a world of flavor to explore beyond that! I love to cook my quinoa with strong broths. A dollop of curry paste is always welcome for a jolt of flavor. Or you can experiment with spices like turmeric, powdered chiles, or seaweeds, or mushroom powders. Chopped garlic? Yes! Miso? So good. The realm of possibilities is endless. 

How Can I Add Quinoa to My Baking?

Stir leftover quinoa into all your favorite baked goods for more interesting flavor, texture, and nutritional punch. The key here is experimenting. Stir a cup of cooked, room-temperature quinoa into your favorite muffin mix. Or cut it into your best pie crust, or biscuit dough. This amount is usually a good place to start until you get a feel for things. Make notes! Then, add more or less quinoa the next time through. This is one of my favorite baking pro-tips. Once you start adding things like quinoa or millet to your baking, all-white flour baking gets less and less interesting. 

How to Store Cooked Quinoa

Store leftover quinoa in the refrigerator for up to a few days, beyond that, transfer it to the freezer. It freezes beautifully. When you’re ready to use it, bring to room temperature and then transfer to a bowl. Use a fork to break up clumps and make uniform. My motto here is: Fridge, freeze, fluff.

Twenty Favorite Quinoa Recipes

If you’re looking for great quinoa recipes, you’re in the right place! 

  1. Double Broccoli Quinoa

    Broccoli lovers delight, with a broccoli pesto, quinoa, sliced avocado and a drizzle of feisty chile pepper oil. Double Broccoli Quinoa

  2. Mung Quinoa Power Bowl Recipe

    Simply mung beans and quinoa with deeply sautéed and spiced celery.
    Mung Quinoa Power Bowl Recipe

  3. Spicy Instant Pot Taco Soup Recipe

    A hearty melding of beans, and corn, and taco spices, and quinoa.
    Spicy Instant Pot Taco Soup Recipe

  4. Super Green Vegan Quinoa Burritos

    Vegan burritos packed with all the good stuff – quinoa, mung beans, and lots of kale. Super Green Vegan Quinoa Burritos

  5. Vegan Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl

    Double up on broccoli through a coconut green curry pesto and florets, then toss with a quinoa base. Vegan Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl

  6. Kale Quinoa Bites

    The perfect on-the-go snack or mini meal.
    Kale Quinoa Bites

  7. Life Changing Green Rice Porridge

    A one pot, effortless, green, nutrient-packed twist on one of my favorite things to eat. Life Changing Green Rice Porridge

  8. Super Natural Vegan Sushi

    Vegan sushi made with sweet potato fries, seasoned tofu, avocado, kale chips, and a quinoa-sushi rice blend. Super Natural Vegan Sushi

  9. Rustic Tomato Tart

    The crust of this tart deploys a favorite baking trinity of mine – rye, cooked quinoa, and all-purpose (or bread) flour. Rustic Tomato Tart

  10. Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa

    A berry-studded breakfast quinoa with pecans and blackberries, sweetened with agave nectar or honey. Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe

  11. Coconut Quinoa Bowl

    The next time you have leftover quinoa (other other favorite grain) give it a try – coconut, garlic, almonds, kale, topped with salted yogurt and avocado. Coconut Quinoa Bowl Recipe

  12. Quinoa Skillet Bread

    A rustic, minimally structured, custard-topped, crusty-edged, herb-scented corn-quinoa skillet bread. Quinoa Skillet Bread Recipe

  13. Heather’s Quinoa

    A one-skillet quinoa recipe – quinoa, corn, chopped kale and pan-toasted tofu tossed with a big dollop of pesto and finished off with a few roasted cherry tomatoes. Heather’s Quinoa Recipe

  14. Quinoa Hemp Snack Balls

    A quick way to get quinoa, hemp seeds, chia, and coconut into one naturally sweetened, no-bake snack. 

  15. Perfect Healthy Granola

    Deeply chocolate-flavored with dark black cocoa and cocoa nibs, this granola is packed with heart-healthy oats, quinoa crispies and seeds. 

  16. Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad

    An impromptu quinoa salad recipe made by tossing a quick tahini dressing with chickpeas, red onion, and cilantro.

  17. Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad

    This quinoa and grilled zucchini recipe is tossed with a pretty, pale green cilantro-flecked avocado dressing.

  18. Quinoa Cloud Cookies

    Cookies made from toasted quinoa and wheat flours, flecked with chocolate shavings, rolled and stamped into cloud shapes. 

  19. Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini

    A quinoa salad made from a quirky combination of quinoa, dill, shredded zucchini, and currants. 

  20. Tokyo Five Grain

    A colorful grain blend inspired by a trip to Japan. 

Have fun cooking with quinoa! Use it in soups, on salads, as a base for all sorts of quinoa bowls, and as a nutrient-packed alternative to white rice or pasta. Stir it into your batters and fold it into your bread and pizza doughs. If you find you enjoy recipes featuring whole quinoa, there are also other forms of quinoa available. Keep an eye out for quinoa flakes, popped/puffed quinoa as well as quinoa flour. All are delicious, interesting, and easy to incorporate into your cooking. Have fun!

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A Maximalist Potato Salad

If you’re looking for a simple potato salad – this isn’t it. But this maximalist take is worth making regardless. The details: tender potatoes are loaded with chiles, chopped herbs, garlic & whatever bright, fresh vegetables you have on hand.

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If you’re looking for a simple potato salad – this isn’t it. But have a look at this more maximalist take regardless. You want this in your life, I promise. It’s vibrating with flavor and color, and incredibly good. The details: tender potatoes are loaded with chiles, chopped herbs, garlic & whatever bright, fresh vegetables you have on hand. Right now, for me, that means asparagus from the market, fava beans from the garden, and peas from the freezer. I haven’t managed to get peas to flourish in our garden plot, but that’s a story for another day.
A Maximalist Potato Salad
Let’s talk about a few things before you jump into the recipe! First, it makes a substantial difference if you use spices that are on point and fresh. If your cumin has been collecting dust for years, this may be the opportunity to reboot. In an effort to avoid repeating the cycle, keep that new cumin (and another spice or two?) on your counter for the next couple of weeks. And use them. It’s an opportunity to make an effort to cook with what is in front of you, learn more about what techniques bring out the flavor of those spices (crushing, tempering, or roasting for example), and generally keep them top of mind. This is one way I end up discovering all sorts of ingredient combinations I love. A few go-to spice sources for me (off the top of my head) include Épices Rœllinger, Diaspora Co., Burlap and Barrel, and Épices de Cru. A favorite local Indian grocery also has a growing organic spice selection that I like to browse regularly as well.
A Maximalist Potato Salad
I came home with a haul of fresh curry leaves from that same store the other day – and it’s a big part of what inspired this potato salad. I love the fragrance and texture of fried curry leaves whenever I encounter them – for ex: in Sri Lanka and Southern India they are used often – and buy them to cook with whenever I can. A side note, I’ve also had my eye on an eight-foot curry tree at a nearby nursery but it is too large to fit in the car, turning the purchase of the tree into a bigger project. I’m also worried it might not thrive in our yard, which I think is basically a bit of top soil, and then sand. :/

So, on the curry leaf front: I always buy extra, and freeze a bunch. As a rule of thumb, I generally freeze any that I don’t think I’ll use in the next 10 days. After freezing, they’re not as fragrant as fresh, the color shifts a bit and the texture changes, but they do the job and it’s nice to have them on hand. As I mention in the headnotes below, an alternative to curry leaves in this recipe is a big handful of chopped fresh basil. A different preparation altogether, but fragrant, summery, and wonderful. Other ideas? Add some citrus zest. Or, I could imagine a version with slivered, fresh makrut lime leaves in place of the curry leaves. Just a bit of encouragement to experiment and play around.
A Maximalist Potato Salad
What you see is a very spring version of this potato salad, but maybe you’re seeing this in August? A summer version would be A+ as well. Experiment with grilled corn, roasted tomatoes, and green beans in place of the asparagus, favas, and peas. Also! I’ll also take this opportunity to call out a detail here. Don’t serve this potato salad straight from the refrigerator or cold. It’s really much better just after tossing the hot potatoes with the garlicky curry-spice oil. Or, if you make it ahead of time, let it come up to room temperature before serving. 
A Maximalist Potato Salad
Enjoy! And if you’re on the hunt for more potato recipes, a few favorites include sea-salt baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, homemade gnocchi. There’s also a whole list of potato recipes here. Also, this is the time of year to have a couple go-to summery BBQ salad-type recipes on-hand like this Lime-blistered Coleslaw, Grilled Zucchini & Bread Salad, the Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad, this Coconut Corn Salad, and a more classic Macaroni Salad.

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Cucumber Salad

A refreshing chopped cucumber salad loaded with peanuts, spices, toasted coconut, and chiles.

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I have two new cookbooks on my desk. Two books to really dive into. Tender V.1 by Nigel Slater, and How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor. Today’s Cucumber Peanut Salad was my first foray into Sanjeev’s book and it doesn’t disappoint – chopped cucumbers, spices, toasted peanuts, coconut, and green chiles come together in a refreshing but surprisingly substantial salad.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad

A Special Cucumber Salad

After my book signing in Berkeley recently, I was invited by the shop to choose and take home any book I liked. How to Cook Indian was it. I tucked the massive orange Indian volume under my arm, went home, and spent hours the next morning tagging recipes – so many! Today’s cucumber salad was one of them. I took a few liberties with it based on personal preference and the ingredients in my kitchen. I mean, that’s how I approach many recipes. I don’t always have all the ingredients on hand, but I try not to let that deter me. Instead of trying to get thing perfectly “authentic” or as written, I like the spirit of winging it a bit, based on what I think will taste good within the general framework of a recipe.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad
That’s what you see here. So, for this cucumber salad – I didn’t have the fresh coconut Sanjeev calls for, but I did have big, dried coconut flakes. I knew I could toast them, and they’d be great- so I went with it. I like to leave some of the peel on my cucumbers – so that is what you see here. That sort of thing. If like me you I forgot to grind the peanuts, whole peanuts are great here too.
Half-peeled Cucumbers

What Kind of Cucumbers Should I Use?

You have options! I grow multiple types of cucumbers in our garden. Favorite varietals for a cucumber salad like this include Japanese cucumber, lemon cucumber, Persian cucumber and English cucumber. Select cucumbers with healthy looking skins, and a plump, tense feel overall. You don’t want limp, sad, dehydrating cucumber. A long way of saying that choosing a great cucumber can be more important than the type of cucumber.
Spicy Peanut & Cucumber Salad on a Serving Plate
The perfect salad for a hot summer day. Pair this cucumber salad with whatever you have coming off the grill, it goes beautifully with so much. We’ve enjoyed it alongside kebabs, grilled quesadillas, veggie burgers, and tofu burgers.

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Sunny Citrus Recipes + How to Use Lots of Citrus

Favorite citrus recipes and all the ways I put a big box of citrus to use this week. Oranges, Meyer and Eureka lemons, mandarins, and grapefruits are all in the mix.

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The abundance of homegrown citrus this time of year in Los Angeles is a peak reason I love being a Californian. You see front yard Meyer lemon trees groaning with yellow orbs. Pomelos and grapefruits frame driveways, and trees impossibly heavy with oranges regularly warrant a double-take. Being surround with this much citrus is happy-making. Especially if you can get your hands on it. And did I ever. My dad’s neighbors generously dropped off a huge crate of Meyers, mandarins, oranges, and Eureka lemons the other day – a legit “bend with your knees” box. So here I am jotting down the ways I’ve been using it, saving it, and the citrus recipes I’ve been making all week.

Ginger Grapefruit Curd

A Week in Citrus

I thought I’d start by talking through everything I’ve done with citrus in the past week. It has been a mix! I’ll include recipes down below for the pastes and syrups.

  • Kosho: I started a batch of Meyer lemon kosho. Kosho is traditionally a spicy, fermented Japanese Yuzu paste, but because lemons are more plentiful here, I tend to use them.
  • Citrus Peel Pastes: I also blended Meyer lemon, Eureka, and orange peels into a number of quick (unfermented) pastes, and froze them in single use quantities. I’ll write up the recipes down below. I use them to season and boost everything! From pastas and soups to rice bowls and roasted vegetable tacos.
  • Most of the mandarins were simply peeled and popped into mouths, but a few have made it into my favorite citrus salad (I’ll highlight that down below).
  • Meyer Lemon & Rose Geranium No-heat Syrup: I love the intensity of no-heat syrups, and made a thick, intensely flavored Meyer lemon syrup by massaging lots of lemon peel with sugar and rose geranium leaves.
  • Orange No-heat Syrup: Same process as the lemon syrup, but kept it to orange peel here. See the recipe below.
  • Citrus Ice Cubes: After peeling citrus and making pastes or syrups, all of the juice was frozen in ice cube trays for future use in drinks, granitas, soups, etc.

Favorite Citrus Salad from Super Natural Simple Cookbook

My Favorite Citrus Salad

I love this salad. It has a mix of citrus segments, peanuts, red onions, a few saffron threads and almond extract along with good olive oil. The recipe is in Super Natural Simple which will be out next month. There’s more information (and so many good soups & salads) here.

Oranges Being Peeled

How To Efficiently Peel Citrus

Ok, let’s talk about peeling citrus. There was a lot of it going on this week. Peeling citrus isn’t a quick task. Know that going in, and you’ll enjoy the process much more. I basically have three moves (see below). 1. Start with clean, dry citrus, and slice citrus from top to bottom in wide slabs. 2. Trim all the bitter pith away. To do this, keep the peel flat agains the cutting board, and trim away from yourself. 3. Scrape any remaining pith from peel with the dull or “flip-side” of a knife.
How To Peel Citrus

What about the Juice?

Lots of peel means lots of juice. Sometimes we just drink it, or use it over the coming days. But, if you freeze the juice in ice cube trays you end up with easy to thaw portions for use in dressing, granitas, soups, curries – basically any place where you can imagine a sunny citrus boost!

Meyer Lemon Ice Cubes

So Many Ways To Use Citrus Peel Pastes

Citrus peel pastes are fragrant flavor blasts. You can make them as simple or complex as you want. I tend to keep mine pretty straightforward, but love the addition of garlic – quite a lot of it. You might add spice blends, mix citruses, you could use other oils in place of olive oil, etc. Here’s how I put them to use after making them:

Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) is super garlicky and was amazing combined with a healthy amount of cayenne pepper, water, and coconut milk to make a beautiful broth for soba noodles – season with more salt to taste to make it just right. I also put a dollop on my lunchtime chana masala and loved the way it brightened everything up. It was also incredibly good dolloped on top of a bowl of this Fire Broth Noodle Soup. And lastly, I used it as a finishing accent on roasted vegetable tacos (cauliflower & mushroom) on homemade corn tortillas. Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste is pictured below.

Meyer Lemon & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) was perfect tossed with a bowl of pan-fried golden artichoke hearts. The next day I tossed a generous amount  of the citrus paste with hot noodles, extra olive oil, pasta water, lots of scallions, a bit of torn mozzarella, herbs and broccoli – so good! And it was the perfect slather across the top of a simple buckwheat and gruyere crepe the other night. 
Orange Peel and Garlic Paste in a Blender

No-Heat Citrus Peel Syrups

Heating fruit changes the flavor profile. As I mentioned up above,  I love the intensity, and uncooked clarity that rings through citrus peel syrups. Made by patiently massaging citrus peels with sugar and leaving to macerate, you strain and end up with an intense, full-bodied syrup to use in countless ways. A favorite this week was an easy drinking dark rum cocktail made with a splash of orange syrup, a shot of dark rum, shaken with tons of ice and topped off with pampelmousse La Croix, and a kiss of lime juice.

Bottle of Homemade Meyer Lemon Syrup
Making Homemade Orange Syrup

Cookbooks Focused on Citrus Recipes

Citri – I love this little 60-ish page cookbook zine by Loria Stern. I’ve encountered Loria and her beautiful creations a number of times since moving to Los Angeles (thanks to Jessica & Joanna), and she made sure I had Citri at the perfect time – peak citrus season. It’s a love letter to citrus with 25 bright and brilliant recipes.
Citri Cookbook with Pink Cover and Yellow Spiral Binding 

Also, have a look at Citrus : Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson, Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers by Gwendolyn Richards, and also Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and the Sour by Catherine Phipps. 

More Citrus Recipes from the Archives

There are a lot of citrus-centric recipes in the 101 archives, and I’ll put them in the related searches below, but these two recipes have been exceptionally popular over the years. A few years back, I also linked out to a bunch of great winter citrus recipes here.
Candied Citrus Pops
Candied Citrus Lollipops: Two-ingredient magic. Plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. They’re the perfect, delightful sweet treat.
Citrus Salt
A Spectrum of Citrus Salts: Citrus salts made from all sorts of winter citrus zest – clementines, wild lime, Meyer lemon, kalamansi oranges, and mandarinquats. Couldn’t be simpler.

Let me know your favorite ultra citrus centric recipes and resources. And in the meantime, I hope you find a bit of inspiration here, especially with the citrus peel pastes. Enjoy! -h

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Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl

This chia-centric Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl is an A-plus make-ahead blender breakfast.

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I spent a good chunk of time this week cooking beautiful Indian food from the recipes in Dishoom. With the air-quality in Los Angeles getting increasingly bad, staying inside to cook through a number of intensive recipes helped me take my mind off the increasingly heart-breaking situation here in California and West Coast. In addition to the bhel puri, multiple chutneys, mattar paneer, black daal, aloo sabzi, and a technicolor-flavored garam masala, I put a wonderfully sweet watermelon to use. It was a gift from a neighbor we’re lucky to have. I used little chunks of it in place of pomegranate seeds in the bhel puri, and then whipped up this chia-centric Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl in the blender.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl
You can see it pictured here topped with extra watermelon balls, toasted almonds, crushed freeze-dried raspberries, and a sprinkling of chia seeds. I can imagine a kid-friendly version where you serve it in a tall glass, and sink a bunch of whole watermelon balls into it. The whole recipe really takes on the flavor of the watermelon, balanced out by the tartness of the raspberries. The key here is getting your hands on a super-sweet, top notch watermelon.
Watermelon Balls in Weck Jar
I shaped the watermelon into balls with a melon baller tool probably as old as I am. I’ll forever love eating melons in this shape, but if you don’t want to go to the effort, seedless chunks, roughly bite-sized are what you’re aiming for. They go in the blender, but also make an easy topping if you want to double down on the watermelon front.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl Ingredients in a Blender
I like making a big jar of this sort of breakfast using whatever is seasonal because they keep nicely for up to 4-5 days. I mean, the jar is typically empty by day 2 or 3, but it’s a good make-ahead breakfast. It’s also a good way to kick off your morning with some fruit, fiber, and nuts.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl
One last thought, and this is a personal preference. I find that with breakfast bowls of this sort, I really enjoy having lots of crunchy components on top. Here, you can see toasted almonds filling that roll, but I tend to switch it up day to day. If I have a good homemade cereal blend on hand (like this Breakfast Magic, or this Triple Oat Breakfast Cereal) I use that. Basically anything dry with a good-amount of crunch is fair game and encouraged.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl

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Simple Bruschetta

Good tomatoes are the thing that matters most when it comes to making bruschetta – the classic Italian antipasto. It is such a simple preparation that paying attention to the little details matters.

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This is the very best time of year to make bruschetta. It’s late summer and tomatoes are vivid and ripe, saturated with flavor. Good tomatoes are the thing that matters most when it comes to making this classic, open-faced Italian antipasto. This is such a simple preparation it means paying attention to the little details matters. Today I’m going to talk through how I make my favorite bruschetta, and include a few simple variations as well.
Simple Bruschetta

The Importance of Using Good Ingredients

The first rule of making great bruschetta is to use the best ingredients you can get. You’re using such a short list of ingredients, it’s important they’re all super flavorful. Use fragrant, golden extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar that tastes good, and in-season, ripe tomatoes. We’ll talk about choosing bread next, but using good bread and tomatoes and olive oil is everything here and dictates whether your results will be “pretty good”, or “omg so good.”

What Kind of Bread Should you Use for Bruschetta?

In short, you want a hearty bread that can stand up to grilling. Marcella Hazan says, “the name bruschetta comes from bruscare, which means “to roast over coals” the original and still the best way of toasting the bread.” She calls for Italian whole wheat bread (pane integrale) sliced 1 1/2 inches thick. I usually use whatever hearty sourdough or country loaf I have on hand at the time. If you’re baking homemade sourdough, by all means use that. Bruschetta is a great way to use up day(s)-old bread. Many sources will tell you 1/2-inch slices are the goal, and Marcella weighs in suggesting we use bread sliced 1 1/2-inches thick. I find that slices 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick hit the sweet spot where you can get a good ratio of topping to bread in each bite. 

That said, let me back up a minute and note that a lot of the bruschetta I see photos of are actually crostini – small two-bite toasts sliced from a white baguette-style bread and topped with a tomato mixture. That’s not what I’m talking about today. The bruschetta I love uses hearty slabs of bread, preferably with a dense crumb. It is grilled, rubbed well with garlic (both sides!), and topped. These aren’t two-bite affairs, they’re more like 5-6.

As far as grilling the bread? In the A16: Food+Wine cookbook they note, “the word bruschetta, which is derived from bruciare, “to burn” implies that some charring on the bread is desirable.” Assuming both sources are right about the origins of the name bruschetta, we want to grill our bread, and get a kiss of the burn you get from grilling. If you don’t have access to a grill, second choice would be to use a broiler. Third option, use  a stovetop grill pan.
Grilled Sourdough Bread for Making Bruschetta

A Tip for Grilling Bread

Brush each slice with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil before grilling. I find this helps keep the bread from drying out as it is toasting. As soon as you’ve removed the bread from the grill, and it is cool enough to handle, rub both sides vigorously with a peeled clove of garlic. Especially if you love garlic as much as I do.

Today’s Bruschetta Recipe

It’s my favorite, simple, use-your-best-tomatoes version. Red tomatoes are tossed with olive oil, salt, torn basil, and a splash of vinegar. I’ll include the recipe for this down below, but you can use the same approach for the other variations I list here.
Simple Bruschetta with Ripe Red Tomatoes and Basil

Let’s Talk about the Vinegar Component

I think of the vinegar in bruschetta as a seasoning component of sorts. It brings acidity, melds with the olive oil, and brings some balance. I’ll say it outright. You can’t use awful vinegar and there’s a lot of it out there. I made so much bruschetta in my twenties using harsh vinegars, and I’m just sad it took me a while to find the magic of good ones. Two favorite vinegars top of mind right now include Katz vinegars, and Brightland’s Parasol.

If you taste your vinegar and wince hard, or if it has a musty smell, consider investing in a new bottle. In Italy you encounter bruschetta using a range of vinegars. I tend to use a favorite white wine vinegar (for this and many salads), but if you have a red wine vinegar, herb vinegar or balsamic vinegar you love, use that. I’d even argue, a squeeze of lemon juice is a better choice than a bad tasting vinegar. If you use lemon juice, add some zest while you’re at it. It might not be traditional, but it will be delicious! 
Bruschetta Made with Seasonal Tomatoes and Basil

A Few Bruschetta Variations

  • Yellow Tomato Bruschetta with Dukkah & Lemon Zest: A version of bruschetta with yellow teardrop tomatoes tossed with good olive oil, torn basil, a splash of good-tasting white wine vinegar. Pictured below. Finished with lots of lemon zest and a generous sprinkling of dukkah. You can make your dukkah. Or, I also love this Botanica version. If you keep a lemon olive oil on hand, use that for an extra-special version.
    Bruschetta with Yellow Tomatoes
  • Pan-blistered Artichoke Bruschetta: Top grilled bread with golden-crusted baby artichokes, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil or lemon olive oil, black pepper, and sprinkle with chives and/or chive flowers. Pictured in the center of the photo below.
    Bruschetta - Three Different Ways
  • More ideas: I love a spicy red tomato version drizzled with lots of spicy garlic-chili oil
  • Or a yellow tomato version tossed with a garlic-turmeric oil, and finished with lots of black pepper. This take is zero-percent traditional but everyone loves it.

An Assortment of Simple Bruschetta

Cold-weather Bruschetta

Although I’m writing this in summer – prime tomato and grilling season – you can experiment with bruschetta all year long. Roasted slabs of winter squash or sweet potatoes topped with a salsa verde are great. Or sautéed garlicky winter greens or kale and a bit of grated cheese. Think of all the toppings you can do with roasted mushrooms, roasted beets, and the like. Combine any of these with the last of whatever beans you may have cooked earlier in the week.  I’ll also note, this is the time of year I shift any bruschetta-making to the broiler from the grill.
Preparing Bruschetta in the Kitchen
I hope more than anything that this post is a reminder that the simplest food can be the best food. The tail end of a loaf of homemade sourdough, a few tomatoes from the garden along with a sprinkling of whatever herbs and herb flowers are there, garlic, and olive oil? Makes a perfect little meal, or party spread. 

If you have a surplus of tomatoes, I have a some recipe ideas for you!  This tomato tart is always a hit. Same goes for this Spaghetti with No-Cook Sauce. Make this favorite salsa. And tomatoes are perfect in this summery coleslaw

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