This lovely, light dessert is like a smiley-face emoticon punctuating a meal. It is sunny and sweet, the perfect extra something to leave you completely satisfied. But this finishing statement has multiple layers of complexity, all easily achieved, and it’s not only mouthwatering but stunning and healthful as well.
First, there are flavor layers inherent in the oranges themselves, with their mingling of sweetness and pucker, tipping in one direction or the other depending on what variety you choose. Any type will work here, each giving the dish its own unique quality. But when I find them, I jump at the chance to use blood oranges, with their mouthwatering tartness and passionate red interiors, or Cara Caras, which have a stunning pink hue.
You could simply eat an orange on its own and call it dessert, but drizzle a honey syrup luxuriously over the fruit, and suddenly it really feels like one. The syrup is a combination of honey and lemon juice that amplifies the citrus’ dueling sweet-tart flavors. It also imparts another dimension because it is steeped briefly with a sprig of mint, so the drizzle is infused with a subtle minty note.
The orange slices are sprinkled lightly with freshly ground black pepper. Yes, pepper; that is not a typo. It might seem out of place, but once you try it, you will see how much sense it makes. The spice doesn’t add an overwhelming pepper flavor; rather it blends in to make the dish more complex and compelling.
A scattering of buttery, bright-green pistachios and ribbons of mint adds a tasty confetti to this healthful celebration of a dessert.
Oranges With Mint-Infused Honey and Pistachios
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 small sprig fresh mint, plus 4 to 6 mint leaves for garnish
3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios
4 oranges, such as Cara Cara, navel or blood orange
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the honey, lemon juice and the sprig of mint in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the honey dissolves. Once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, remove it from the heat; let it steep for 10 minutes, then discard the mint.
Toast the pistachios in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Pour them onto a cutting board to cool completely, then coarsely chop them.
Slice off the tops and bottoms of the oranges, then cut down the sides of the fruit to remove all skin and white pith. Cut each orange horizontally into 5 or 6 rounds. Stack the remaining mint leaves and roll them up tightly; cut crosswise to create thin ribbons.
Arrange the orange rounds on a platter or divide among individual plates. Drizzle them with the mint-infused honey. Sprinkle lightly with pepper, then scatter the toasted pistachios and the ribbons of mint on top.
Per serving: 160 calories, 3 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 30 g sugar
Yield: 4 servings