The life in my backyard is so breathtakingly alive right now. I am especially drawn to my two 60-year-old orange trees who greet me everyday with bursts of intensely perfumed orange blossoms that permeate my backyard. So heady is this fragrance, I find myself making excuses to stay home, just to linger in my garden. This heavenly smell is reminiscent of springtime in my home town of Riverside, California, where, in my earlier days, the orange trees possibly outnumbered the residents!
Not to neglect the brilliant oranges that are a part of this scene, they too deserve attention. It’s as if they are asking, “ So, what will you create with us today?” As much as I love eating them ripe off the tree, I came up with this easy recipe which also uses the prolific Swiss chard making a strong appearance in my garden right now. The flavors interact perfectly – some tang, some crunch, some sweetness. It’s colorful and delicious. I love it as a side dish or make it a main by tossing in some cannellini beans for vegetarian or sweet chicken sausage slices for a meatier meal.
- 5-6 cupfuls of sliced Swiss chard, stems removed and cut into pieces separately
- 1 large shallot, sliced into rings
- 2 large, fresh oranges, cut into 1” cubes
- 3 or more Tablespoons roughly chopped pistachios
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Saute the chard stems in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Salt to taste.
- In a small pan, saute the shallot in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until deep brown and almost crispy.
- Add the sliced chard to the chard stems and cook on medium heat, tossing frequently until just beginning to wilt. Do not overcook or it will lose its beautiful green color. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss in the shallots and oranges.
- Sprinkle in the pistachios.
- This is especially good when drizzled with Orange or Mandarin Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add a splash of Fig Balsamic Vinegar to take it over the edge.
“Did you ever sleep in a field of orange-trees in bloom? The air which one inhales deliciously is a quintessence of perfumes. This powerful and sweet smell, as savoury as a sweetmeat, seems to penetrate one, to impregnate, to intoxicate, to induce languor, to bring about a dreamy and somnolent torpor. It is like opium prepared by fairy hands and not by chemists.”
― Guy de Maupassant, 88 Short Stories
My feelings exactly! Take deep breaths and drink in the beauty of Spring!
P.S. I named this story Orange Blossom Special after the bluegrass song that stole my heart when I lived in Southern Illinois. Here is a fun rendition of the “Fiddle Player’s National Anthem.”
Ciao for now,