Roast Your Subpar Citrus

Roast Your Subpar Citrus
Photo: Claire Lower
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We are nearing the end of citrus season, and some of my clementines, oranges, and hybrid beauties are starting to taste a little lacklustre. Sure, I can still get a cheap two-kilo bag of clementines, but there has been a noticeable decline in their quality towards the end of the season. Some of the little citrus fruits are bright and juicy, but some are too hard, too dry, or just not very flavourful. This is obviously a very disappointing situation to bite into, but if you feel like tossing the remaining subpar segments in the compost, pause — collect yourself — then toss them into a baking dish instead.

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Roasting bland, watery produce gives it flavour. This is true for out-of-season tomatoes, and it is true for almost-out-of-season clementines. Blasting citrus segments in the oven concentrates the flavours that are there, and adds new flavours by way of browning. The fruit gets a little candied, a little saucy, and a whole lot more snackable.

You don’t really need a recipe, though you can certainly find a few if you do a quick search. Ruth Reichl roasts her clementines in a pan, but I prefer the slower, hands-off oven approach. All you have to do is separate the segments, pull off the white stringy bits, and toss with just enough olive oil to coat in an oven-safe dish. You can also add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup per whole fruit for extra sweetness, some chilli flakes for heat, or some herbs for complexity. Sprinkle everything with sea salt, then pop it in a 200 degrees Celsius-oven for 35-45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and browned at the edges.

Let cool, then spoon into yogurt, over ricotta toast, or onto a salad. Roasted citrus fruits also make a great addition to a cheese plate, or a fine counterpoint to a slab of salty, broiled or braised meat — but don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating them like candy.

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