As a kid, I remember being sent to the backyard to grab a snack. I’d forego the plethora of fuzzy zucchini, and grab either a tomato or orange. Biting into a sun-warmed fruit, sweet juice dripping down my chin in the dry heat of Tucson, Arizona, is a memory stuck in my bones.

No surprise oranges and tomatoes were interchangeable snacks, both of them sweet, acidic and juicy. Turns out, oranges and tomatoes are worthy swaps for each other in a host of raw recipes.

So if you are out of tomatoes, or they are simply out of season, consider using oranges instead, tasty year-round.

When you are stuck for a side dish, grab a few oranges from the fruit basket, slice them up and lay them out on a platter, and add whatever tasty toppings you have on hand – avocado, chopped scallions or shallots, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, spicy greens, leftover rotisserie chicken, a drizzle of pesto are just a few ideas. Try this week’s Orange and Cucumber Layered Salad with Shrimp, but use the ingredient list as a mere suggestion to start your own creative version.


Serves 2

1 medium naval or cara cara orange (or grapefruit), peeled, sliced, membrane and seeds removed

1 medium blood red orange, peeled, sliced, membrane and seeds removed

1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/4 medium avocado, sliced

1/4 fennel bulb, core removed, thinly sliced

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced (To mellow the red onion flavor, shock the red onion slices by placing for ten seconds in ice cold water, and then blotting dry.)

1 cup watercress (or arugula or other favorite greens)

6 ounces steamed shrimp

1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds (or other nut or seed)

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or orange juice

2 teaspoons high quality extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Optional: chopped fennel fronds for garnish

Layer the orange slices and cucumber on a platter. Top with the avocado slices, fennel slices, watercress, shrimp and pumpkin seeds. Squeeze the lemon or orange juice over the whole salad, and then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and fennel fronds, if using.

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