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Published Jan. 24, 2012

By Elinor Klivans - Washington Post

It wasn't long ago that the winter produce department was almost as bare as the ground outside. Happily, things have changed. It is now common to find intensely vibrant blood oranges, buttery comice pears, sweet pomelos, easy-to-peel mandarin oranges, ready-to-eat pomegranate seeds and mild Meyer lemons, the bulk of which are grown in Florida and California.

(Tampa Bay shoppers can find often find these interesting winter fruits at weekly outdoor markets, Whole Foods in Tampa, the Fresh Markets in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa, or at independent natural food stores.)

With the exception of pomelos, prepping those fruits is quick and easy. Pomelos, which look like giant grapefruits, aren't ripe until their light-green skin turns yellow. The skin and pith combined are about an inch thick and must be removed. Cut the fruit in half or in quarters and pull off the peel with its white pith, then cut the fruit into chunks or slices, removing any tough membrane as you go. Pomelos can be sectioned like grapefruit, but much of their sweet juice and coral-pink flesh will be lost.

It's not difficult to work these fruits into just about any meal of the day, as the accompanying recipes show.

Elinor Klivans' latest cookbook is "Fast Breads: 50 Recipes for Easy, Delicious Bread" (Chronicle, 2010).


Pomelo, Escarole and Candied Bacon Salad With Meyer Lemon Dressing

Here, sweet pomelo and brown-sugar-glazed bacon balance the slight bitterness of the escarole. The juice of Meyer lemons is less tart than that of regular lemons, but the latter can be substituted.

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

12 slices bacon, preferably applewood-smoked

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Freshly squeezed juice from 1 or 2 Meyer lemons ( 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 head (1 pound) escarole, cleaned and torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 medium sweet red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 pomelo (about 2 pounds), peeled (removing pith), then cut into bite-size pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack in a roasting pan that's large enough to hold all of the bacon.

Spread the brown sugar evenly over a large piece of wax paper. Press the bacon slices on half of the sugar so the sugar sticks. Arrange the coated bacon in a single layer, sugar side up, on the rack. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, turn the slices over and sprinkle them with the remaining brown sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp.

Transfer the bacon to a plate. Use paper towels to dab away some of the fat on both sides; do not drain the slices on layers of paper towels or the bacon will stick to them.

Use the back of a spoon to mash the garlic and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the mustard, then the lemon juice and oil to form an emulsified dressing. Season with black pepper to taste.

Toss together the escarole, red bell pepper and dressing in a large bowl. Divide among individual plates, then scatter equal amounts of the pomelo pieces over each portion. Top each serving with 2 slices of the candied bacon.

Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Nutritional information per serving: 410 calories, 8g protein, 43g carbohydrates, 25g fat (5g saturated), 500mg sodium, 4g fiber.

Source: Washington Post


Curried Chicken Salad With Comice Pear and Pomegranate Seeds

1 cup low-fat mayonnaise

4 teaspoons curry powder

Freshly squeezed juice from 1 or 2 lemons (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought chutney

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

4 cups (about 2 pounds) cooked, skinless white-meat chicken, cut into bite-size chunks

1 (8-ounce) comice pear, cored, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup roasted cashews (salted or unsalted)

3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Stir together the mayonnaise, curry powder, lemon juice, chutney and cilantro leaves in a medium bowl.

Combine the chicken and pear in a serving bowl, then add the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with the cashews and pomegranate seeds.

Makes about 6 1/4 cups (8 servings).

Make ahead: The salad can be composed a day or two in advance; for best flavor, add the nuts and pomegranate seeds just before serving.

Nutritional information per serving (using unsalted cashews): 310 calories, 28g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 16g fat (3g saturated fat), 360mg sodium, 1g fiber, 7g sugar.

Source: Washington Post


Orange Smoothies

2 navel oranges, peeled, seeded if necessary, then cut into chunks

6 ounces whole or low-fat vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup almond milk

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups ice cubes

Combine the oranges, yogurt, almond milk, brown sugar, coconut and vanilla extract in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.

Add the ice cubes, then puree to create a smooth, thick consistency.

Divide among individual glasses; serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 4 1/2 cups (3 or 4 servings).

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4, using low-fat yogurt): 110 calories, 3g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 3g fat (2g saturated), 45mg sodium, 2g fiber.

Source: Washington Post