During the cold grey days of winter and even on cool wet spring days, oranges are a zesty reminder that somewhere, the sun is shining. Sadly, it hasn’t been a great year for citrus, either for price or flavor. So I was delighted to find a good deal on an 8-pound bag of Tarocco oranges from Sicily at Costco recently.
The Tarocco oranges, which are native to Italy, are the most popular table orange there, probably because they’re easy to peel and they taste juicy and sweet. In addition, they’re grown in fertile volcanic soil surrounding Mount Etna, which helps give them the highest Vitamin C content of any type of orange.
Although Tarocco oranges are a type of blood orange, they don’t have the consistently deep color that I associate with blood oranges. As you can see from my photo, the inside flesh varies widely in hue, from a very bloody-looking red to a light orange.
I was curious why most of the Taroccos were not as dark as other blood oranges I’ve had in the past, so I did a little research. I discovered that there are many types of blood oranges. They vary in size, color, and sweetness. Taroccos, in fact, are sometimes referred to as a “half-blood” orange, because they’re not as red as some of the other types. If you have your heart set on oranges with a rosy rind and deep blush inside, you are best off seeking out Moro oranges.
For presentation purposes, I think the variation in flesh color is appealing. I decided to make a colorful winter salad with a few of my Tarocco oranges by tossing them with greens, sliced fennel, red onion and chickpeas. It tasted as good as it looked.
Winter “Half-Blood” Orange Salad
4 cups mixed greens
3 Tarocco oranges, peeled and sectioned
½ fennel bulb, sliced finely
¼ red onion, chopped finely
1 cup cooked chickpeas
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ of a canned chipotle, with 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste.
Blend the olive oil, vinegar, chipotle, and syrup together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss.