Tangelo: union that works deliciously

Fruit: A cross between a tangerine and the pomelo, it's got the best traits of both.

March 22, 2000|By Carol J. G. Ward | Carol J. G. Ward,Knight Ridder/Tribune

The tangelo takes its name from the fact that it's a cross between the tangerine, part of the mandarin-orange family, and the pomelo, a fruit similar to a grapefruit.

Tangelos inherit the best traits from both parents. Mandarins, known for their sweetness and the ease with which they can be peeled, pass these traits on to the tangelo. From the grapefruit, tangelos get a slightly tangy taste.

There are many hybrids of the loose-skinned tangelo, ranging in size from that of a tiny orange to that of a small grapefruit. The skins, which can be rough to smooth, range in color from yellow-orange to deep orange.

The Minneola is the most common variety found in markets. It's about the size of a small orange with a thin yellow-orange skin. Its most distinguishing feature is the bumpy skin and knoblike nose on the stem end.

* Availability: Tangelos are in season from November through March.

* Selection and storage: Good-quality tangelos will be firm to slightly soft and heavy for their size. The coloring will be deep orange. Avoid those with soft spots or dull and faded coloring. Overly puffy skins can mean the fruit underneath is overripe, tough or moldy-tasting.

Unpeeled tangelos can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

* Preparation: Because tangelos are easy to peel, they are perfect for brown-bag lunches.

When you peel a tangelo, most of the bitter white inner skin will come away with the peel. The only other preparation you'll need is separating the peeled tangelo into sections and removing the few seeds.

Eat tangelos out of hand or take advantage of the sweet-and-tart flavor in a variety of recipes. Use seeded tangelo sections in a salad of wild rice, sugar snap peas, sliced mushrooms and thinly sliced red onion, tossed with a dressing of olive oil, wine vinegar and freshly ground pepper.

Make a taste-of-summer seafood cocktail by tossing diced tangelo sections with diced cooked shrimp (or lobster or crab meat) with a dressing made of tomato sauce, lemon juice, black pepper, salt and horseradish. Serve over shredded lettuce or watercress.

* Nutritional highlights: Like all citrus fruits, tangelos are rich in vitamin C.

Tangelos also are a good source of fiber and potassium. With no fat and just 37 calories per 6-ounce fruit, tangelos make an ideal diet food.

Minneola, Arugula and Olive Salad

Serves 4

4 tangelos (see note)

1 bunch arugula, washed, stemmed and dried

4 scallions, trimmed and very finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1/2 cup black olives (preferably oil-cured)

DRESSING:

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

OTHER INGREDIENT:

hot pepper flakes, for sprinkling

Cut the rind off the tangelos, working over a bowl to catch any juices. Cut the tangelos crosswise into 1/4 -inch slices. Remove any seeds with the tip of a fork. Line a platter with the arugula. Arrange the tangelo slices on top, leaving a border of green arugula showing. Scatter the scallions, parsley and olives on top. Make the dressing: Combine the salt and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk until the salt completely dissolves. Whisk in any reserved tangelo juice, and add the olive oil in a thin stream, followed by the pepper. Correct the seasonings, add salt to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Dust the salad with the hot pepper flakes and serve at once.

Note: Minneolas are a type of tangelo. If tangelos are unavailable, you can use 4 oranges or 6-8 tangerines in the recipe.

-- From "Miami Spice" (Workman, 1993) by Steven Raichlen

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