- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sausage in the stuffing, cream in the potatoes, gravy on that big, rich bird. Face it: Thanksgiving is one heavy meal.

The best way to lighten up the menu? Citrus.

“It adds brightness, freshness, it accentuates other flavors,” said cookbook writer Michael Ruhlman, author of “Ruhlman’s Twenty.”

Whether it comes from orange, lemon or lime, the acid in citrus fruits balances fat the same way vinegar balances oil in a dressing. It invites salt and awakens the palate. Citrus zest offers bite with its intensely fragrant oils.

Used together, the juice and zest create levels of sweet-sour-bitter that play out across your tongue.

“Citrus fruits have a double life,” said Niki Segnit, author of “The Flavor Thesaurus.” “The juice is sour, the zest is bitter. You have two different flavors you can play with.”

Oranges are the world’s most popular citrus fruits, Ms. Segnit said, their broad flavor ensuring that they play well with most others. Your everyday orange loves apples, fennel and chocolate, but it is so rich in undertones that it also offers surprising combinations, such as our asparagus recipe below.

We often turn to lemons as the workhorse of the kitchen. Their bracing juice highlights almost any flavor, such as sweet apple and piney rosemary, and lemon often is what stands between a chef and a one-note dish.


Recipe by Alison Ladman

2 bunches asparagus

¼ cup orange marmalade

2 tablespoons lime juice

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cumin

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

toasted sesame seeds

Trim and steam the asparagus until bright green and just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the marmalade, lime juice, paprika and cumin. Bring to a simmer, then season with salt and pepper. Toss the asparagus into the glaze and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serves 6.


Recipe by Alison Ladman

3 clementines

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh marjoram, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

14-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Cut the clementines in half. Remove any seeds. In a processor, pulse the clementine halves until finely chopped. Add the thyme, marjoram and chives. Pulse to mix, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the cranberry sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 12.


Recipe by Alison Ladman

4 tablespoons butter

1 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

20-ounce ball of purchased pizza dough

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the zest of the lemon and rosemary. Cook for 1 minute. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Cut into 1-inch strips. Brush with the lemon-rosemary butter, then transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet, twisting if desired. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 12.



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