In Season: Popular for centuries in Spain and Italy, blood oranges are now being cultivated in the United States. Look for blood oranges in specialty supermarkets from November through May.
What to Look For: Blood oranges are somewhat smaller than navel oranges, and often have pitted skin mottled with hints of red; the interior flesh is deep crimson. The flavor is sweeter and less tart than other oranges, and may have hints of raspberry or a slightly bitter edge. Choose firm, plump oranges that are heavy for their size.
How to Store: Blood oranges will keep at room temperature for several days, kept in a bowl or basket where air can circulate freely. To store oranges for up to two weeks, put them in an airtight bag or container and place them in the produce drawer of the refrigerator.
Thinly sliced roasted beets and blood orange segments combine with bright-green watercress to make a fresh-tasting winter salad. The colorful vinaigrette is made from blood orange juice, red-wine vinegar, shallots, and olive oil.
Rice pudding, a typically rustic dessert, gets dressed up for a special occasion when spread into sweet pastry tart shells and topped with fresh blood orange segments. The tart shells, rice pudding, and blood oranges can all be prepared a day ahead and assembled just before serving.
This bright winter salad is full of lively contrasts of color, texture, and flavor. Slightly bitter escarole, sweet blood oranges, crisp celery stalks and leaves, and crunchy walnuts are tossed with a light vinaigrette of champagne vinegar and olive oil.
Red, golden, and candy-striped baby beets are roasted until tender, then tossed with shaved fennel bulb and aged goat cheese. The vinaigrette is made in the blender, combining pureed red beets, white wine vinegar, and a reduction of fresh blood-orange juice.