My favorite fruits are citrus fruits. Grapefruit, lemons, limes, pomelos, tangerines and oranges are at their peak in early spring. Each citrus fruit has its own unique flavor and they are all delicious, refreshing and brighten both sweet and savory dishes. Citrus fruits are also very healthy. You probably know that they contain high amounts of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals and helps with collagen synthesis for healthier bones, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. But did you know that citrus fruits also contain lots of folate and thiamin which help cell division, DNA synthesis and metabolism? Yup, and citrus fruits contain flavonoids – antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and may protect against heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer. Healthy and delicious – that’s the best combination. So take advantage of seasonal fruits with these sunny citrus recipes that will brighten your day and your meals.
Many people think about eating grapefruit for breakfast but it can be used for any meal in both sweet and savory recipes. Adding citrus to your smoothies makes them even healthier so drink your grapefruit juice in this Pineapple Grapefruit Kale Smoothie, Holiday Liver Cleanser Green Smoothie and this Green Superfood Detox Smoothie. Balance tart and sweet when you bake these Chocolate Chip Cookies with Grapefruit and Anise and this Grapefruit Coconut Bread with Hazelnut Frosting. For savory uses, try this Grapefruit Coriander Fennel Bites and these Grapefruit Eggplant Fries.
I can’t believe there was ever a time when I didn’t like lemons but it’s true. Unless it was a lollipop, you couldn’t put a lemon near me. Now I love lemons in everything! Lemons are beautiful to look at and brighten up any dish you use them in. They work in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as in salads, salad dressings and beverages. Start your day with a Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie that’s healthy and delicious. Let this tart fruit help satisfy your sweet tooth with these Lemon Cashew Tarts, Lemon and Fig Tarts, Raw Vegan Lemon Meltaway Balls, Meyer Lemon Coconut Cream Tarts With Mint and Lavender, Rosemary Lemon Sandwich Cookies, Lemon, Coconut and Vanilla Tart, Raw Mandarin Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream and this No-Bake Lemon Tart.
For savory dishes, try this Moroccan Tofu in Lemon-Olive Sauce over Spaghetti, Lemony Baked Tofu, Lemon-Butter Fettuccine with Parsley and Pine Nuts, Lemon Seitan with Creamy Polenta, Baked “Fish” Cakes with Lemon-Herb Mayo, Cajun Quinoa Cakes & Lemon-Dill-Sriracha Rémoulade and this Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro and Lemon. Don’t forget about Buddha’s Hand, a form of citron. Learn All About Buddha’s Hand and 5 Ways to Use It.
Lime is another way to enhance the flavor of foods with the brightness of citrus. They can be sour or sweet depending on the variety but sweet limes, which lack citric acid, are not commonly found in the United States. Pucker up for the taste of lime in desserts like this Raw-vocado Key Lime Pie, Lime Poppyseed Mini Cheesecakes, Lime Cashew Cookies, and this Fizzy Coconut, Lime and Mint Kombucha Elixir. Refresh yourself with a Lime and Cherry Chia Smoothie. Brighten up savory dishes like this Quinoa, Lime and Black Bean Salad, Roasted Cauliflower with Chipotle and Lime, Magical Roasted Corn and Lime Tortilla Soup, Chili Coated Plantain Crisps with Lime Ketchup, Charred Corn on the Cob with Thai Chili-Lime Mayo, Red Cabbage-Lime Slaw, and Cilantro, Lime and Black Bean Rice. Want a snack that’s healthy and yummy? Munch away on these Roasted Chickpeas with Chipotle and Lime.
There’s a lot more to do with oranges than just squeeze them for some OJ. Oranges pair well with so many foods, they should always be in your kitchen. My favorite way to cook with oranges is to use their sweetness to balance spicy flavors. My Orange Glazed Sweet and Spicy Tempeh has sweet orange marmalade and Cajun spices paired in a marriage made in heaven. I use fresh orange juice to brighten up this Vegan Orange “Chicken” with Zucchini Noodles and in the marinade for my Pineapple Island Tofu Kebabs. Don’t miss my recipe for Orange-Infused BBQ Sauce that is perfect for making Epic Vegan BBQ Tofu Wings. More savory dishes that have that sweet orange goodness are this Orange Cauliflower, Curried Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup, and these Black Bean and Orange Breakfast Tacos. Add fresh oranges to your salads like this Orange and Fennel Salad and this Raw Massaged Kale Salad with Fresh Figs and Oranges.
With all these savory dishes, we could forget about using oranges in our desserts but don’t. Not when there’s something as amazing as this Vegan Orange Chocolate Cheesecake, Raw Carrot Orange Cupcakes, Raw Orange and Blueberry Cheesecake, and Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes. Yes, please!
There is an ongoing debate about whether pineapples are citrus fruits or not. They don’t belong to the same family as citrus fruits do, Rutaceae. Rather, they belong to the family Bromeliaceae. Citrus trees bear fruit from their branches while pineapple is the stem of the plant. You also cannot zest a pineapple. Ouch! However, pineapples do contain citric acid (unlike some limes) and they are tropical fruits (of which citrus fruits are a subcategory). So while they may not technically be a citrus fruit, many people do think of pineapples that way. Whether they are or not, pineapples are delicious and I love cooking with them. You can try to grow your own or you can just buy one and use it in dishes both savory and sweet. Try this refreshing Pineapple Sorbet, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and cool Pineapple-Basil Pops. Brighten up savory dishes like this Pineapple Fried Quinoa, Pineapple Guacamole, Pineapple and Peanut Stir-Fry, Pineapple Island Vegan Kebabs, and Sweet and Sour Cauliflower.
If you have never tried pomelos, this spring is the perfect time to try one. They may not be as well-known as the other citrus fruits but they are just as awesome. They look like big grapefruits; in fact, they are the largest of all the citrus fruits. Pomelos have a yellow-green rind and when you cut them open, the flesh is a pretty, bright pink. They taste similar to grapefruit but are sweeter without that tartness that makes your mouth pucker. Use pomelo anywhere you would use grapefruit. They pair well with avocado as in my simple Avocado Pomelo Fruit Salad: combine segments from 3 or 4 pomelos with 2 sliced avocados. Toss with the zest and juice of a lime and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Make sure to try this Pomelo Salad with Roasted Coconut – a vegan version of the salads found in Vietnamese restaurants.
7. Tangerines and Clementines
Ok, technically tangerines and clementines are not the same thing but they are very similar. Tangerines are small oranges that are sweeter and easier to eat. When I was a kid, I loved tangerines which were consistently delicious unlike oranges which could be sweet or tart. Clementines have become more popular because they are sweet, easy to peel and kids love them. You can learn more about all the different varieties of oranges in Know Your Oranges: Use the Right Oranges for the Right Recipe. Use either tangerines or clementines to make this Dreamsicle Smoothie and this Cranberry and Clementine Chutney.
Citrus fruits give us so many ways to use them: their zest, their juice, and their segments. They taste amazing raw as well as cooked and work in savory dishes, smoothies, salads and sweet desserts. I hope these recipes brighten up your day and your meals.
Lead Image Photo: Moroccan Tofu in Lemon-Olive Sauce over Spaghetti