Blood Oranges Will Give Your Next Creamy Pasta Dish A Tangy Kick

Everyone needs one easy recipe they know by heart, and for many, that's a creamy pasta dish. Warm, comforting, and always delicious, the meal is a hard one to mess up. Plus, it's fairly simple to elevate with a few special ingredients. Whether you opt for creamy Cajun pasta or pasta alla vodka, incorporating citrus into the mix is a surefire way to complete the meal.

Typically, that citrus ends up being a lemon; the yellow fruit always brightens a dish, so we have no complaints about that. However, if you want your creamy pasta to stand out against the rest, cook it with blood oranges instead. While lemons possess a sour, acidic flavor, blood oranges lean sweeter. This fruit has a berry-like fruitiness with floral nuances to it, making it a hit in desserts and cocktails, as well as an underrated pasta ingredient.

Blood oranges can be found in stores around October to March, perfect for your summer to fall transitional pasta dishes. Lemons might be too sharp for the colder months, but blood oranges pair well with other warm, fragrant ingredients — such as rosemary, thyme, and ginger — making them ideal for fall and winter dishes. Add in mild cheeses, like feta or goat cheese, that won't compete with the prominent flavor of the blood oranges.

How to incorporate blood oranges into pasta

One of the easiest ways to add citrus into a pasta dish is via the juice. Right before the sauce is finished cooking on the stove, pour in your freshly squeezed blood orange juice. By cooking your citrus juice too long, it can turn overly sour and bitter. Instead, stir it in as you turn off the heat. You should also be careful about how much you add, as acidity combined with cream can cause the sauce to curdle like cheese.

If you want a heavy citrus flavor without the risk of your sauce growing too thick, try cooking with the blood orange zest. To get the most out of that method, avoid the mistake that can ruin citrus zest by ensuring that you're grating the peel right before cooking with it. That way you'll get the maximum amount of flavor. Similar to the juice, toss in the zest during the last few minutes of cooking.

For a baked pasta dish with bright flavor, cut up a blood orange and nestle slices of it into your dish before placing it in the oven. The warm, roasted citrus tastes especially pleasant with salty morsels of sausage and melted brie.