Winter in Napa is that most blissful and perfect time of year when pomegranate seeds are everywhere, there’s an avocado around every corner, and you (or five people you know) have so much citrus they simply don’t know what to do with it.
Tree after tree in backyards and up and down streets and sidewalks are heavily laden with bright fruit. Weighed down, branches drooping over fences and across yards, it’s hard to go anywhere without finding bushels of lemons, oranges, limes, and soon blood oranges and kumquats just waiting to be picked. At my parent’s house, the branches of the meyer lemon and orange trees are so filled with fat little orange and yellow orbs that they bend to the ground, begging to be released from their loads.
It’s hard not to put a recipe here this time of year that doesn’t focus on these beauties. Raw, vegan, gluten-free, perfect on their own, but made even more exciting with a little salt, pepper, olive oil, or chiles, they’re a simple snack or meal for even the pickiest of eaters. When you find citrus that isn’t quite sweet yet, try sprinkling it with salt or even drizzling it with maple syrup or honey to draw out the sweetness from the young fruit. Some of my favorite snacks since moving out here have been oranges, grapefruit, and blood oranges sprinkled with a little good quality salt and chili flakes. Perfection! It’s hard to go wrong with fresh citrus his time of year, so it’s up to you whether or not you want to simply serve them on their own or dress them up a little!
A good carpaccio is a wonderful thing, so I decided to have a little fun and make this dish in that style. Fresh slices of citrus plus big slices of avocado and juicy little pomegranate seeds seemed just right for today. There was a restaurant I worked in several years ago where we made a really sexy beet carpaccio, and I’m thinking I’ll have to do something like that in the near future. For this dish, along with the fresh citrus, I used the micro greens and baby vegetables that I have used in recipes like the salmon tartare and the tamales.
I need to keep thinning out my garden so my produce can grow, so those sweet and tender little greens wind up in most of my dishes. If you don’t have micro greens, don’t worry about it! Shred kale and thinly slice fennel for nearly the same effect! It’s just fun to use food that’s growing right outside my backdoor, and if I don’t use those little guys, I’ll never have strong plants! They go in every salad recipe I put together!
For the carpaccio, getting the peel off the citrus isn’t too challenging. First cut off the top and bottom to the point where you can see the flesh. Then, going around the fruit, use a sharp knife to peel away the sides until you have nothing but fruit.
For the “dressing,” I simply drizzled the carpaccio with charred lemon juice and olive oil. For charred lemon juice, all you need to do is cut a lemon in half, get a small pan nice and hot, add a little oil, and put the lemon flesh-side-down in the pan (carefully!!!) and cook until it’s blackened in spots. That’s it!
You can use it in a vinaigrette, or just squeeze it over the food you’re making like I did here and in the halibut recipe. I’m using Meyer lemons in everything right now because they’re absolutely everywhere, but if you only have access to another kind, don’t sweat it! You might find that the lemon is a bit too tart without a little added sweetness, but charring the lemons brings out the natural sugars, making the flavor noticeably sweeter. If your vinaigrette is still too tart, a sprinkle of sugar or a little extra maple syrup will balance that acidity right out.
The avocado on this carpaccio adds a wonderful creaminess and the pomegranate seeds on top are fun little bursts of flavor. As I mentioned in the petrale sole recipe, cutting your pomegranate in half, putting each half in a plastic bag and beating the outside of the pomegranate with a large spoon is a super fast and nearly mess-free way to get those pomegranate seeds out!
Interested in some of the amazing health benefits of pomegranates? You should check out this article at Health & Fitness Shops about the amazing health benefits of pomegranates! They may be small, but the flavor and the nutritional benefits of those little flavor bursts are unbeatable.
Bright, Fresh, and Incredibly Healthy Citrus Carpaccio with Avocado, Pomegranate Seeds, and Charred Lemon Juice
- 1-2 shallots, sliced thinly in rings
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs salt
- 1/2 ea grapefruit, peeled and sliced in rings
- 1/2 ea orange, peeled and sliced in rings
- 1/2 ea blood orange, peeled and sliced in rings
- 1 ea lemon, halved
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 ea chili, thinly sliced (optional)(I used Thai Bird)
- Small handful of greens, like arugula, kale, and/or mache
- Small handful of herbs, like mint, basil, chives, and/or fennel fronds
- 1-2 tsp good quality olive oil
- salt, pepper,
- drizzle of honey (only use if you feel you need to add sweetness to the citrus)
- Put the shallots in a heat-proof, non-reactive bowl.
- Bring the other ingredients to a boil and pour over.
- Pour the boiling liquid over the shallots and allow to stand for at least 1 hr.
- Get a pan very hot and add oil.
- Carefully add the lemon halves, cut side down. Cook until blackened in spots. Flip, and cook 1-2 more minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
- Place the citrus around the plate.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and honey if using
- Scatter the other ingredients over the top.
- Squeeze juice from charred lemon over, drizzle with olive oil. Serve and enjoy!
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