Friday, April 13, 2012

Sweet Lovely Tangelos!

Is it just me, or are these not a luscious-looking pair?
I bought a huge bag of Minneola tangelos just three days ago, and they're almost gone already--which should tell you something about them. Tangelos are a favorite of mine among citrus, mostly because of their unique taste and sweet-sour balance, but also, to be honest, for their mammaliamorphic appearance (it's a guy thing).

Tangelos, a hybrid of tangerine and pomelo, are rich in vitamin C, but you probably knew that. What you may not have known is that they're also a great source of folate, and a decent source of B vitamins, Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and--contrary to carnivore beliefs--riboflavin! My mother used to worry so fretfully that I might be lacking riboflavin since I wasn't eating anything that bleeds. Of course, most plants pack a ton of nutrients--both macro and micro--so this should come as no big surprise--I mean, where did dear mama think the animals got their essential nutrients from to begin with? Alas, entrenched beliefs do die hard.

Anyway, back to these gorgeous fruits. First, naturally, a bunch of them went through the squeezer and into tall glasses. A couple had their lustrous skins pulled off, their sensuous segments crushed between teeth, their brilliant dancing juice guzzled down grateful gullets. Those initial urges quickly sated--let's face it, they don't take much imagination--I began to use the zest and juice a little more creatively.

I made a generous batch of tangelo vinaigrette, with the juice and zest, basil-infused white balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, Celtic salt, freshly ground mixed peppercorns (black, white, pink and green), and the last of a bottle of Manzanillo EVOO (yum!). Then I made this salad...

Actually, the idea for the salad came first. I had just picked up an exceptionally lush, verdant bunch of dandelion greens, and was thinking of ways to make them more palatable for my family. I love all the tastes, but bitter is a hard sell for most people. Bitter, by the way--at least in food--is good for you. It's an indicator that the food in question is a powerful blood cleanser. Once you get past the initial reaction most sweet-addicted people have, it's really quite enjoyable, believe it or not. But again, most people will need a compensating foil for bitter greens that can take the edge off. So this was the vinaigrette I devised to help get the medicine down.

Dandelion Salad with Tangelo Vinaigrette
As an extra sweetening agent, I included a generous amount of grated beet and a little grated carrot to the salad, along with thinly sliced red onion and celery. It all went very quickly. I tossed the the salad with the tangelo vinaigrette and piled it in shallow bowls. But as I stood back and looked, it seemed wistful in a way, just not quite complete, like a wood-nymph, arrayed in greenery, but lacking just a little gem to bring out her glow.

Then--aha!--I took a few Brazil nuts, sliced them thickly and strewed them over the mounded greens. Perfect, both to the eye and the munching experience. The nuts themselves seemed pleased, as if they too had met a suitable companion and were finally content.

As I like to say, "Why stop at good, when it's not that much farther to extraordinary?"

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