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Kitchen magic with kumquats

Recipe: Roasted, the tiny citrus fruit becomes a flavor giant

Bagel with cream cheese and kumquat pieces
Roasted kumquat quarters add a big pop of flavor
to a toasted bagel and cream cheese. The kumquats
also could be chopped and stirred into the cream cheese.
(Photos: Kathy Morrison)

As much as I love kumquats, the fruit on my tiny tree often is just ornamental, because there's only so much (I believed) that I can do with it. Sure, marmalade, but you really need a lot of them to make all that sugar mess worthwhile.  And though I enjoy eating the sour-tart little fruits whole, not everyone does.

But the kumquats are ripening again, so I went looking for recipes. And certainly soon I will make the kumquat salsa recipe I found over at Simply Recipes, but I really had to try making roasted kumquats. The method I found uses just 1 cupful of fruit, plus olive oil and salt. That's it!

One cup of ripe kumquats.

So this recipe is more of a technique, and the result more of a condiment or garnish that a dish. But those little roasted fruit pieces pack a punch of flavor. The sourness disappears, and you're left with a tart-sweet concentration of fruit that plays well with a variety of foods.

Example: I was roasting the kumquats during the first part of the 49er-Green Bay playoff game, so on a whim tossed some of the cooked fruit on top of the grilled sausage that was my dinner. The kumquats added a delicious punch to the whole grain mustard and pickled onions that also dressed the not-spicy sausage.

Then, for breakfast, I sprinkled several pieces across my cream-cheese-covered bagel. Wow, that combination is going into the regular repertoire.

A note on prepping the kumquats: The seeds are edible, after all, so don't worry about popping all of them out when you slice or chop the fruit. And don't chop them too small -- halves or quarters are small enough, but not so much that they'll burn in the oven. Chop the fruit up some more after cooking if you want to sprinkle small bits.

Chopped kumquats
Some of the seeds are exposed when the kumquats
are sliced, but don't worry about removing them all.

Roasted kumquats

Makes about 1 cup


1 cup washed kumquats (measured while whole)

2 teaspoons good-quality olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the kumquats in half and let any loose seeds fall out. If the fruit is small, you can cook them that size, or quarter them lengthwise. If the fruit is large, chop it roughly but not too much. (See note above.)

Toss the prepped fruit with the olive oil and salt. Spread it on a baking sheet or shallow rimmed pan.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring the fruit at about the 10-minute point. Continue roasting, and after 10 minutes check the fruit to make sure it's not at risk of burning. Remove from the oven if the fruit looks evenly roasted. Or, continue cooking for up to 5 more minutes.

Green spatula with roasted kumquats
Roasted and ready to be used.

Cool fruit slightly, then use immediately, or store in a covered container until ready to use. Refrigerate if you plan to use it the next day.

Easily doubled or tripled.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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