A New Way to Enjoy My Favorite Citrus!
One of my greatest joys, amongst many, of my recent move north, is the discovery of a sensational grocery store. In fact, I’ve never seen anything like it. One of the outstanding departments is the produce section. It is humongous, with a much larger selection than I’ve previously experienced. Seeing as how it’s just about the peak of citrus season, I bought navel oranges, Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, clementines, Meyer Lemons, and eureka lemons.
Deciding what to do with these glorious citrus fruits couldn’t have been more fun. I made a tart, cookies, salads, etc. Then I ran into a recipe from Nik Sharma for a confit of lemons and that led me down the road to this post. While I loved his idea, I wanted something quite different.
I only used one lemon because I wanted mine to be more orange centric. So, I sliced up a navel orange, one Cara Cara, and 3 clementines. I also wanted other savory notes and had bought some beautiful small zucchini. So, I added 2 of those, along with a red bell pepper, whole garlic cloves, and a sliced shallot.
After tossing everything with salt, plenty of nigella seeds ,* and dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) ,* I realized I needed a tiny bit of brown sugar. Not enough to make it sweet, but only enough to balance and emphasize the citrus flavors. The dried fenugreek leaves * are optional, but I love their deep savory flavor and think they added a beautiful herbal note of flavor.
I wanted some heat in this so I tucked in whole dried Kashmiri * and habanero chilies .* At that point it was simply a matter of pouring on plenty of olive oil, making sure the fruits and vegetables were completely submerged. This took a lot of olive oil – 6 cups. You could easily cut the recipe in half. But I had quite a few plans on how I was going to use this confit and I wanted plenty of it.
I baked it in a slow oven – 275° – for 2 hours until all the ingredients were fully softened. Then I let it sit until it had fully cooled. The smell alone was killing me. You can probably imagine how all those ingredients melded together.
The first night we ate it by spooning it onto toasts that were first spread with some creamy goat cheese I’d mixed with a little heavy cream, honey, and black pepper.
Since then we’ve eaten it as a simple pasta sauce by chopping it up coarsely and stirring it into pasta, along with some pasta water, and then topping it with plenty of pecorino and sliced scallions.
Its silky texture and complex flavor are exactly what I’d hoped for and I’ll be eating it in myriad ways. I’ll be spooning it over crispy chicken thighs, using the oil for vinaigrettes and as a finishing oil for veggies, etc. I’m also going to pick up some burrata the next time I’m at the store and can only imagine how good this will be served on a platter with that creaminess oozing into the confit and scooping it up with crusty bread.
I’m not certain how long this will last covered in the fridge, but I made it a couple of weeks ago and it’s still going strong. I think it will definitely last for at least a month or so as I figure out even more ways to enjoy it.