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Oranges brighten winter -- in vegetable dishes, too

Recipe: Broccoli side dish is quick and delicious

Broccoli can be bright and fresh, really. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Oranges and other citrus are a godsend in winter, when we need a dash of brightness, both in color and flavor. They're great in baked goods and salads, of course, but also in vegetable dishes, where the orange adds highlights without bumping up the calorie count.

Just a few ingredients, but they pack flavor

This broccoli dish comes from a favorite source, "The Sunset Cookbook," the big one with the orange cover, published in 2010. The editors credit a reader, Laura A. Flynn, for creating this side, which speaks so much of California cooking: a few fresh seasonal ingredients, a little Asian influence and a light hand in the cooking. It's ready in less than 10 minutes once the ingredients are prepped. Keep the broccoli pieces fairly small so they cook quickly and the broccoli remains bright green.

Orange and walnut broccoli
Adapted from "The Sunset Cookbook"
Serves 4 to 5


1 large navel orange
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5 cups (12 ounces) broccoli florets, cut in bite-size pieces (some stem is OK, but not wide pieces)
Black pepper, optional


A zester produces long strips, which are ideal for this.

Zest the orange using a citrus zester (see photo) or grater, being careful not to grate the white pith as well. A Microplane zester can be used, but the orange zest will be much smaller -- the larger strips are ideally what you want in this dish.

Juice the orange and reserve 1/4 cup juice; save the rest for another use.

Heat oil in a wok or slope-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Stir-fry the zest, walnuts and ginger just until the edges of the zest ares lightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the 1/2 cup orange juice and the soy sauce. Add the broccoli florets and cook, stirring occasionally, until the florets are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Season with freshly ground pepper, if desired, and serve.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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