There was a recipe I had been wanting to try for a while during Winter when the oranges hung large and gorgeous on the tree. But it was one of those times when the recipe sat on my kitchen bench for weeks before finally making it. Originally I had considered making it as a stand-alone dessert, but finally made it as a topping for a very special sweet congee. Since then, we have also topped our favourite rice pudding with these poached oranges and ricotta, and served it as-is, as a delicious dessert at the end of a long cold day. It really is divine, incredibly quick and easy to make, and can be served warm or cold.
Poached Oranges with Vanilla Ricotta
0.25 cup orange juice
1 Tblspn honey
zest 0.5 lime or lemon
1 tspn finely grated ginger root (more if you love ginger)
1 vanilla bean (or use a little vanilla essence)
0.5 cup fresh ricotta
2 Tblspn natural Greek yoghurt
2 tspns hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
2 tspns pistachios, chopped (optional)
Carefully peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing all of the white pith. Slice the oranges cross-wise into three slices each.
Place the orange juice in a frying pan with 0.25 cup water. Add the honey, lime zest and grated ginger, and stir until the honey is dissolved. Raise the heat and bring to a vigorous simmer. Add the orange slices and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. By this time the liquid should have reduced and formed a light syrup – if not, gently remove the orange slices and boil the liquid until it reduces and a syrup forms.
To make the ricotta, score the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife. Using the blunt end of the knife, scrape out the tiny seeds into a bowl with the ricotta and yoghurt. Beat together until smooth.
To serve, place the orange slices on top of the congee, place a dollop or two of the vanilla ricotta, and drizzle the honey-citrus syrup over all. Sprinkle nuts over the top, if using.
recipe notes and alternatives
This dish can be made with grapefruit, mandarin segments, tangelos etc as well. As an alternative, the oranges can be cut into segments rather than slices. Cooking time might need to be reduced.
The oranges and syrup can be made ahead of time, and the ricotta can be made the evening before.