Veg Box Newsletter 23th January: Citrus

In the Veg Boxes This Week

Subject to last minute changes

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The Nice Bit

It’s the dead of winter, but the new year always makes me want spring to come as quick as it can. The sun shines through my window and I want to join my cat rolling around on the floor to soak up as much warmth as possible. It can be difficult to process the information that there are months (months!) left of cold before the average temperatures break double digits and flowers bloom in the parks.

It is of enormous comfort that mid-winter is the best season for citrus fruit. Right when we need it most, sweet clementines and oranges, sharp, fragrant lemons and bitter, complex Sevilles are at their best. From the bright colours of the peel to the scent of the zest, everything about citrus is incredibly cheering, as if they were made from the way sun feels on your skin.

You don’t need a recipe to eat an orange but here are some anyway, to aid in celebrating January’s greatest asset.

If you’re looking for an easy one-pan dinner, this recipe for orange-glazed chicken thighs and brussels sprouts sounds lovely. This salmon with lemony spinach is a little more effort, but only a little. Easiest of all is a simple lemon pasta- this one is essentially cacio e pepe but with lemon. For a vegan version, toast some breadcrumbs in olive oil, then toss cooked spaghetti with olive oil, lemon zest and a little juice, and the breadcrumbs.

A favourite of mine is this pot of baked chickpeas. Although lemon plays a relatively small role in the recipe, don’t be deceived: that zest is a must. I’ve been experimenting with the flavour profile recently, and have found an italian-inflected sofrito-fennel-rosemary version is also greatly improved by lots of lemon.

These lemon potatoes are perfect for turning two wintry staples into something that will transport you to a sunny terrace.

Oranges work wonderfully in salads- I’ve added slices to simple rocket-and-fennel salads and I recommend doing so as soon as we have fennel around again. In the meantime, try this mozzarella and orange salad or take this halloumi and rocket salad as inspiration.

If you’re thinking desert, how about an orange cake? Claudia Roden’s is the ultimate one, and there are lots of variations on the theme- Nigella’s clementine cake, this orange and poppy seed cake, this olive oil and polenta one with a rosemary syrup, or this vegan version with aquafaba.

If boiling oranges isn’t in your weekend plan but you still want cake, try an upside down cake- here’s a vegan one and here’s a non-vegan one. Alternatively, an easy sorbet (this one pairs orange with star anise) can help you pretend it’s August, or try these lemon bars, basically lemon curd on shortbread. Or just make lemon curd and stir it through your morning yoghurt for a little bit of summer every day.