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Oranges brighten winter -- in vegetable dishes, too

Broccoli doesn't have to be blah. Orange zest and walnuts brighten it up. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Recipe: Broccoli side dish is quick and delicious

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 citrus zester produces long strips, which is what you want for
this dish.
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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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* 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 help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* 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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