In Season: Cara Cara Oranges

This unique variety of oranges has been gaining popularity. But if you want to catch them, get to the market now; they’re only in season for a short time.

This unique variety of oranges has been gaining popularity. But if you want to catch them, get to the market now; they’re only in season for a short time.

What, Where, & When?

These oranges were first discovered in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela (hence the name) and are now grown in California. They’re a type of navel orange that’s a cross between the Washington and Brazilian Bahia navel oranges.

The seedless orange has reddish-pink flesh and a sweet yet tangy flavor similar to cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. They’re available December through April.

Nutrition Facts

One medium cara cara orange has 80 calories, 19 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber. It’s an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamin A and C and a good source of folate. Cara cara oranges also contain a powerful antioxidant know as lycopene, which helps give them their gorgeous hue. Regular consumption of lycopene has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration (a disease that causes vision loss as you age).

What To Do With Cara Cara Oranges

Cara cara oranges are a great snack for kids and adults. Many folks prefer using them in recipes because they're seedless. Use in fruit salad or add to a bed of greens; or make a salsa for chicken or fish. Create delicious cocktails using the juice and zest. Cover them in chocolate (like these chocolate-dipped clementines) or dip in chocolate fondue.

The folks at Sunkist shared with us a deliciously healthy recipe using cara cara oranges.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Jill Davie
Makes 4 servings
For the Fish:
4 (8 ounce) halibut filets

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided (for a reduced-fat version: Use only 1/3 cup of olive oil instead of 1/2 cup)

2 Sunkist cara cara navel oranges
3 cups arugula leaves
½ red onion
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Romesco
1 Sunkist cara cara navel orange
½ shallot
1 clove garlic
¼ cup walnuts
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Prepare barbeque or grill pan (medium-high heat). Brush each halibut filet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until opaque in center, about 4 minutes per side.

Cut away the peel and white pith from the oranges and cut out orange segments. Slice the red onion and toss with orange segments, sherry vinegar and remaining olive oil (For normal recipe this is 1/2 cup olive oil minus 1 tablespoon used in step 1. For reduced fat recipe, this is 1/3 cup olive oil minus 1 tablespoon used in step 1). Allow mixture to marinate for 1 hour.

Toss the orange and onion mixture with the arugula and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Divide arugula among 4 plates; top with grilled halibut filets and a healthy dollop of Romesco.

For the Romesco:

Cut the orange into six wedges. Remove the inner white skin and seeds.

Cut each wedge into smaller pieces. Using a food processor, add the garlic, shallot and orange. Purée on high speed until the orange begins to break down. Add the walnuts, paprikas and sherry vinegar and continue to purée. Add the olive oil in a steady stream until fully incorporated and season with salt. (This sauce can be made ahead and will stay fresh up to 1 week in your refrigerator.)

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Reduced Fat version of recipe - calories: 410, total fat: 19g, saturated fat: 2.5g, % calories from fat: 46.3%, % calories from saturated fat: 5.6%, protein: 19g, carbohydrates: 55g, cholesterol: 55mg, dietary fiber: 4g, sodium: 390mg

Choosing and Storage Tips

Like all navel oranges, cara cara are picked when they’re ripe. This means they’re ready as soon as you get them home. Choose oranges that are firm, shiny, and heavy for their size and have a pleasant smell. Avoid those with spots or wrinkled skin or have a rotten or fermented scent.

More recipes to try:
TELL US: Have you tried cara cara oranges?
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