The magnificent blood orange – a small burst of sunshine for a chilly winters day. Our little local farmer’s market has recently started carrying these beauties. The weatherman was forecasting rain for most of the day but lo and behold, it has been snowing all day – big, fat flakes piling up on around. This winter feels like it will never end! With our focus on Sicily for this month, these little rays of sunshine were the perfect pick me up for our gloomy moods. In Sicily, we used to sit under my friend’s blood orange trees and eat orange after orange, smiling through our juice stained lips.
The blood orange is an expression of the land from which it comes. The crimson-streaked flesh and color is due to the magical Sicilian climate, cold nights followed by warm days filled with sunshine. The Genovese and Portuguese crusaders introduced the sweet orange to Sicily in the 15th century and it is said that it has the highest vitamin C content of any orange in the world. A treasure by any measure. The uses for the blood orange are endless with the color adding a bright orange-red hue to whatever recipe it may grace – in salads (fantastic with beets, red onion and fennel), in cocktails (with prosecco – yum!), in gelato (amazing color). The sky is the limit. I recently picked up a copy of ‘The Southern Italian Farmer’s Table’ cookbook, written by a husband-and-wife cooking and writing team, who met while living in Italy. I spotted this recipe a few weeks back and have been drooling over the thought of this mix of creamy sharp provolone as a backdrop to the sweet tartness of the blood orange reduction and the crunch of the pistachios. The only change I made given the weather was to sort of melt the cheese in a skillet versus grilling. And all my drooling was not for naught – I smile once again through my juice stained lips :o. This recipe is a keeper! Enjoy – buon appetito!
Grilled Provolone with Blood Orange Reduction
Agriturismo: Tenuta Roccadia, Sicily
- ½ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 1 tablespoon mild honey
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ½-inch thick wedges of provolone cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
- Put the orange juice and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the honey dissolves. Reduce the mixture until it is thickened and slightly syrupy, by about a little less then half. Remove from the heat and season with a pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.
- Heat a grill pan or griddle over medium high heat until smoking. Rub the pan with the olive oil and then grill the cheese until lightly golden and soft, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.
- Transfer 2 wedges of cheese to individual plates. Drizzle with the orange reduction and sprinkle with the chopped pistachio nuts. Serve immediately.