This is our favourite season for citrus fruit – a bright new beginning to the year when oranges, blood red, navel for juicing, bergamot and bitter Seville – are plentiful and we can introduce them to salads, make ceviche and churn them into delicious ice-creams.
We love our blood oranges and are particularly proud that there is a ‘Moro’ variety, believed to have originated at the beginning of the 19th century in the citrus-growing area around Lentini (in the Province of Siracusa in Sicily). The vivid crimson flesh is almost painterly in our salads alongside quail, mint and pistachios.
Those of you making marmalade right now will have a store of jarred goodness to eat all year round but we also love the Seville orange churned into ice-cream and topped off with chocolate sauce and chopped nuts – not a million miles from our childhood favourite but with elevated flavours.
So in the spirit of the moment, as it’s February, let’s celebrate the citrus!
Grilled quail with citrus salad and pistachio sauce
4 quails, cut down the middle of the backbone with scissors and flattened out
Citrus salad: segments of 2 blood oranges, ½ pomelo, 1 pink grapefruit, skin removed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Sprinkle of dried rose petals (optional)
½ medium onion, grated
½ clove garlic, crushed to a paste with salt
1.5 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ level teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Mix all the marinade ingredients together and rub all over the quail. Place in a dish and marinate for at least 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
Pistachio sauce ingredients
150g shelled pistachios, roughly blitzed
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
grated zest and juice of ½ orange
1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)
1 heaped tablespoon shredded mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon caster sugar
Combine all the ingredients together and season with salt. Set aside.
To grill the quail rub the tiniest amount of olive oil on to the quail and place breast side up on the barbecue (or hot griddle pan or domestic grill). Cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on the heat, then turn over, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink but still juicy. With a sharp knife remove the breasts and legs. Discard the carcass.
To assemble the salad, lay the segments out onto a serving dish, followed by the quail breasts and legs. Spoon over the pistachio sauce and finish with them fresh mint and rose petals if using.