Orange recipes to brighten up a gloomy week ahead

An overhead view of sliced citrus on a plate and a cake on a plate with pink frosting and citrus slices
Oranges add pops of color, acidity and floral aromas to marmalade, cakes and roasts during a cold, wet week.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

This week, while strolling the Santa Monica Farmers Market — a couple of hours later than I usually do — I noticed several of the vendors didn’t have their tents up. The sun was out, adding warmth to the chilly air, so I thought, “That’s nice, everyone’s enjoying the sun.” And as soon as I had that naive thought, a giant gust of wind came through, whisking one vendor’s tent up into the air, levitating it like a magician’s trick. I hadn’t been to the market since the holidays, so I had forgotten that, oh yeah, this is what winter is here.

Since then, it’s only gotten worse, with more rain and snow and even hail already fallen or in the forecast. It feels like this winter has been the coldest I’ve experienced since moving here four years ago. The temps have me returning to cold-weather comfort staples like meat braises and cakes from autumn, but this time, instead of apples and spices and cranberries to flavor everything, it’s oranges that I’m reaching for to add pops of acidity and brightness to my meals.

While at the market, I purchased an inordinately large amount of oranges — Cara Caras, blood oranges, tangerines — to cook with. Most are going into my tried-and-true Orange Marmalade recipe from last year’s L.A. in a Jar series. But the rest will go into my weeknight meals, lending their aromatic oils to more savory applications — well, and at least one cake.

To start the week, I’m planning to make Andy Baraghani’s Crushed Orange and Rosemary-Braised Lamb With Crunchy Pistachio Yogurt. It’s the type of big roast that gets better each day it sits and is perfect for reheating and serving with rice and some steamed or roasted green veggies throughout the week. Strips of orange zest perk up the braising liquid for the lamb and cut through its fat, with the assist of fresh rosemary, dried chiles and fennel seeds.

When the lamb is all gone, I’ll make my quick and easy Sticky Orange Chicken Thighs With Chile-Cucumber Salad. Orange zest flavors the sticky glaze that coats the rendered and browned chicken thighs, while the flesh gets quartered and mixed with cucumbers, fresh chiles, Chinese black vinegar and sesame seeds for a refreshing, tart salad that marinates and lightly pickles itself so it tastes more flavorful as the days go on.


Lukas Volger has a great recipe for Orange and Mustard-Marinated Asparagus that puts sweet orange juice to use in cutting through a nose-tingling, lightly bitter mustard and beer sauce to coat freshly blanched asparagus. That will make a great side with a piece of salmon or a pork chop for dinner with roast potatoes.

And then for a cake to end the week (or to have for a weekend breakfast, as I’m wont to do), I’ll make my Fried Blood Orange Cake. Thin slices of ruby-red blood orange are “fried” in butter until lightly blackened and caramelized and their pith is fully tender (taking the zest off first enables the pith to get soft quickly). They’re then glazed in orange juice and placed atop a simple vanilla cake glazed with a vibrant pink icing made from more blood orange juice.

The deeply caramelized orange slices are a great contrast to the sweet, tender cake and make for an excellent breakfast cake or afternoon snack. Reach for it when you need a pick-me-up to brighten your day from all the gloomy, chilly weather that howls outside your door.

Crushed Orange and Rosemary-Braised Lamb With Crunchy Pistachio Yogurt

Green garlic, orange zest and yogurt contrast with the rich, heavy lamb, lending freshness to liven up the deep, braised flavor. And although any large cut of meat can seem intimidating to prepare, most of the work happens in the oven.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 5 hours, 30 minutes.

Crushed orange and rosemary braised lamb on an oval platter with a serving fork
(Graydon Herriott)

Sticky Orange Chicken Thighs With Chile-Cucumber Salad

This easy method of simmering browned chicken thighs in a soy-and-honey sauce makes them taste like they’ve been marinating all day. You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead, if you like, but you will need to cut them into 1-inch-thick slices and cook them less.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Pieces of Sticky Chicken Thighs on a blue plate with orange and cucumber salad.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

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Orange and Mustard-Marinated Asparagus

Marinating is a great technique for asparagus — you’ll cook it immediately, shock in cold water, then combine with this zesty marinade. The hot, sweet mustard gives the marinade distinction, but you can use Dijon or any other hot or horseradish mustard if that’s what you’ve got on hand.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Spears of asparagus in a yellow sauce
(Cara Howe)

Fried Blood Orange Cake

Mandarins, clementines or other small orange citrus work great in this recipe too. Those with thinner pith will cook more quickly, so keep your eye on them as they fry in the butter, and lower the heat if it looks as if they might begin to burn.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

A round cake, seen from above, with a pink glaze and citrus slices on it
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Master Orange Marmalade

This marmalade is bright and not too bitter. The recipe calls for blanching the peels once to remove some‚ but not all, of the bitterness and adds more lemon juice than the typical recipe calls for to keep things bright and light.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, plus overnight cooling.

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