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V is for Valencia Orange

Valencia oranges are a citrus fruit. They are in the same family as grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Brought to North America by Spanish explorers, oranges are the number one crop grown in the United States. Valencia oranges were created in California and were named after the Spanish city of Valencia. They used to grow in California, but now most are grown in Florida and Arizona. Valencia oranges are a sweet orange with a thin skin. Unlike the navel orange, they can have seeds.

 

Valencia oranges are considered a “summer” orange, since they are in season March through September. Citrus fruits are typically considered a “winter” crop, including the navel orange. Valencia oranges are valued for being available outside of the typical citrus season. Valencia oranges are commonly used to make juice, but they can be eaten as well. About 90% of all oranges grown are used for making juice. It takes about 2-4 medium sized oranges to get one cup of juice!

You can use Valencia oranges or navel oranges in the same way. Valencia oranges have a bright colored juice, which is why they’re preferred to make orange juice. They can also be eaten peeled as a snack, sliced into segments and put in salads, or the juice and zest can be used to marinate meats and veggies.

Try this refreshing summery salad as a side dish, or add cooked chicken or shrimp for a complete meal. The vitamin C in the oranges helps your body absorb more iron from the spinach in the salad, so it’s a win-win!

Green Salad with Orange, Avocado, and Red Onion (serves 6)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

Ingredients

  • 2 medium navel oranges
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • 1 bag ready to eat baby spinach
  1. Peel and slice the oranges.
  2. Strain the orange slices, reserving the juice. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of the orange juice with the garlic, vinegar, mustard, and salt. While whisking, pour the olive oil into the bowl in a thin stream, and continue whisking until all the oil has been added and the dressing is smooth and emulsified. (Save or drink the remaining unused orange juice.)
  3. Combine the spinach, strained orange slices, onion, and avocado in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.