My mom was a wanna-be urban farmer long before it was cool. Living in the city limits didn't stop us from growing our own veggies in a backyard garden that flanked a huge handmade chicken coop, where we raised hens for eggs.
Today, raising your own food is trendy, but back then we did it because it was cheap. As a kid, I remember being sent to the backyard to grab a snack. I'd forego the plethora of fuzzy zucchini and grab either a tomato or orange.
No surprise oranges and tomatoes were interchangeable snacks, both of them sweet, acidic and juicy. Turns out, oranges and tomatoes are worthy swaps for each other in a host of raw recipes.
So if you are out of tomatoes, or they are simply out of season, consider using oranges instead, tasty year-round. The additional sweetness is a welcome twist in most recipes — try oranges in your caprese salad — but if you want a less sweet option, use grapefruit, or a combination of cucumber and oranges instead.
When you are stuck for a side dish, grab a few oranges from the fruit basket, slice them up, lay them out on a platter and add whatever tasty toppings you have on hand — avocado, chopped scallions or shallots, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, spicy greens, leftover rotisserie chicken, a drizzle of pesto. Try this week's Orange and Cucumber Layered Salad With Shrimp, but use the ingredient list as a mere suggestion to start your own creative version.