Thursday, April 23, 2009

Orange Blossom Paradise

san diego orange grove

I don't know if paradise exists, but I do know that if it does, then it smells like orange blossoms.

Orange blossoms, like lemon blossoms, have a unique, ethereal scent: it's intoxicatingly sweet like the smell of a newborn babe and clean and fresh like a crisp spring day. It's feminine. Romantic. Beautiful. It's paradise.

Many parts of Southern California are currently ripe with the fragrance of orange blossoms; equally exciting is the fruit itself. Right now navel, Valencia, and blood oranges are widely available. So if you find yourself in Southern California any time between now and June, hop in a car and explore some back country roads where you'll find orange, lemon, and grapefruit groves alongside avocado groves and strawberry farms. The last couple of weekends Jeff and I have visited numerous San Diego regions that are bursting with deliciously ripe fruit trees.

san diego orange grove

Since I got shooed away by a grumpy farm worker at this gorgeous grove on the way to Idyllwild, I couldn't get an up-close shot of the blossoms. So I'd recommend gazing at this beauty on Flickr.

Although oranges are wonderful eaten plain out of hand, they are remarkably versatile. I love them in salads, salsas, smoothies, muffins, and cakes.

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite meals: stir-fried tofu, asparagus, sugar snap peas, and orange slices bathed in a honey-orange-ginger glaze on brown rice. It's one of those "healthy" dishes -- high in vitamins A and C, fiber, and protein-- that tastes so good, you forget it's good for you. Paradise.

oranfe tofu 3

Healthy Tofu and Vegetables with a Honey-Orange-Ginger Glaze

Makes 2 main or 4 side servings
Print recipe only here.

Tofu and Vegetables:

2 teaspoons sesame oil
12 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch squares
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch slices on the diagonal

3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons lime juice
zest of 1/2 orange
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or as much as you prefer
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

1 large orange, peeled and segmented, with white pith removed
2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh mint and cilantro
1/2 cup cooked organic brown rice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Once hot, add tofu and saute until browned and crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook asparagus and sugar snap peas for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

To make the glaze, in a small saucepan over low heat, whisk all ingredients from orange juice to corn starch. As soon as it begins to thicken, it's done. In the skillet with the cooked tofu, add the asparagus, sugar snap peas, glaze, orange slices, and herbs. Toss until well coated.

Serve on top of cooked organic brown rice; garnish with toasted sesame seeds, and, if desired, fresh herbs and scallions. Serve hot, at room temperature, or lightly chilled. This makes excellent left-overs for tomorrow's lunch.

You might also enjoy:

Asian Noodle Salad with Tofu and Mango

Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges

Save This Page on