Marinated Oranges (Arance Marinate)
You can make this simple dish with two kinds of oranges, but it also works well with just one. Sicilian blood oranges, known as sanguinelli, with their deep red color, are especially attractive. Serve this light dessert after a rich dinner or one that features fish.
- 4 navel oranges
- 2 blood oranges
- 10 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
Using a serrated knife, remove the zest in wide strips from 2 of the navel oranges and both blood oranges; avoid including the white pith as much as possible. Set the oranges aside. Scrape away any pith from the zest. Stack the zest pieces and cut into narrow matchstick strips.
In a small saucepan over high heat, bring 3 cups of the water to a boil. Add the orange zest and blanch for 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cool water. Repeat two more times, using 3 cups fresh water each time, to eliminate any bitterness in the zest.
In the same small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar and the remaining 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the blanched zest and cook, uncovered, until the syrup thickens slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until read to serve.
Using the serrated knife, trim away all of the white pith from the 4 oranges from which the zest has been removed. Cut the oranges crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick and place in a bowl.
Halve the remaining 2 navel oranges and squeeze the juice from the halves into the bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To serve, spoon the orange slices into shallow bowls or glasses, dividing evenly. Top each serving with the orange zest and syrup. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).