Citrus Is More Versatile Than You’d Think

Mandarins, oranges, and grapefruits can be shockingly good right now

Mark Bittman
Published in
4 min readJan 16, 2020


Photo: Leandro Grasso/EyeEm/Getty Images

Here’s an after-the-holidays food to look forward to: citrus. We’re well into ruby-reds and white grapefruit, as well as navel and temple oranges, honeybells, and mandarins. In the dead of winter, Florida and California citrus fruits make this long stretch a lot brighter.

Of course, you can cut your grapefruit in half and have it for breakfast, bruleed. And you can peel a tangerine or blood orange for a better-than-usual afternoon snack. But there’s so much more that you can do with citrus — like cutting the peel and pith, wheel-slice an orange, dressing it with salt and pepper, then finishing with a really nice olive oil for a dazzling side.

Here’s a more formal version of that salad, along with a couple of other recipes for inspiration.

Marinated Olives With Citrus

This is great this time of year, when the bright acidity is welcome. Cut one lemon, orange, or grapefruit into wedges an add to the mixture, below. Remove citrus before serving.

Makes: 8 or more servings
Time: 5 minutes, plus time to marinate


1 pound olives (green, black, or a mixture, preferably from Greece, Italy or Spain), pitted or not

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Several sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary

2 bay leaves (optional)

1 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)


Combine all the ingredients and transfer to a jar or serving bowl. You can serve these immediately although they are better if they sit, covered and refrigerated, for a day or two. They will keep, improving in flavor, for several weeks, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Winter Citrus Salad With Honey Dressing

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 10 minutes




Mark Bittman

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at