Spring Citrus Recipes From Picnic LA

As much as I love cooking at home, sometimes it’s near impossible. I’m either running the kids around, working, or I’ll be honest—I’m just too exhausted. So I truly rely on healthy and fast spots to grab some food to go. It can be a lifesaver!

Luckily, Los Angeles is known for its health conscious, yet fast service, eateries. The city is also known for its seasonal produce and diverse palate of flavors, which often go hand in hand. I love to pop in, grab some salads and meals to go, and be on my merry way. Some of my favorites include Joans On Third, Lemonade and its more gourmet counterpart, Picnic LA.

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Picnic LA, which is located in Culver City, was opened by some of Los Angeles’ most talented tastemakers. They believe in the power of offering “farm-to-table” local produce and fresh choices in a relaxed environment. This is especially important for mommas on the go! Oh, did I mention they have curbside pickup?

Speaking of fresh choices, my appetite changes with the seasons. Luckily, so does Picnic LA’s menu When I think of recipes for spring, I instantly crave light dishes full of citrus flavor. Bye, comfort food! Luckily, Picnic LA’s new menu is packed with citrus.

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If you’re not in the LA area to stop by and check them out, don’t worry. I’ve got some of their special citrus recipes for you to try in your very home! Make them ahead for the week, for a special brunch, or even as a dinner side.

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Citrus & Fennel Salad

In Los Angeles we have access to amazing fennel and citrus at this time of year, and this salad was created to highlight their amazing flavors and texture. At Picnic LA, the chefs use exceptional J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch Valencia oranges, and Underwood Family Farms sweet fennel. Savoy cabbage adds a satisfying crunch, while citrus juice bursts through with tons of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 fennel bulbs (with their fronds)
  • 1 head savoy cabbage
  • 1 pink or white grapefruit
  • 2 (+1 for juice) Valencia or navel oranges
  • 1 tbsp. celery seed
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • Kosher salt to taste

Directions:

  • Core the fennel bulbs and pick the fennel fronds from the stalks. Thinly shave on a mandolin or with a sharp knife.
  • Core the savoy cabbage and it shave as thin as the fennel.
  • Peel two of the oranges and slice them into thin rounds or half-moons.
  • Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer into a serving vessel and top with extra fennel fronds and orange segments.
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Roasted Beet & Orange Salad

This simple salad may only have a few ingredients, but is absolutely delicious. Tender roasted beets pair perfectly with juicy slices of orange, and black currant glaze adds a great depth of flavor. Using the best oranges possible is critical for this salad. At Picnic LA, they use a variety of seasonal oranges from many local farms. Pick oranges that are firm without any soft spots, and that smell sweet. Currant juice can be found in many supermarkets and health stores. Fried garlic and star anise are easy to find in a local Asian market.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium red beets
  • 2 Oranges (navel, blood, or cara cara)
  • 1 cup Black/Red Currant Juice
  • 5 pieces Star anise
  • 1 bunch mint
  • ½ tbsp. fried garlic
  • 1-2 pinches Sea salt (Maldon Sea Salt is preferable)

Directions:

  • Wash the beets and place into a deep cooking vessel. Fill with water until the beets are 1/4th of the way covered, then tightly cover the vessel with aluminum foil.
  • Roast in a 350F oven for around an hour until the beets are easily pierced with a knife. Peel the beets once they are cool, and slice them into 1/4th inch rounds.
  • Place the currant juice and star anise in a sauce pan, and reduce to about half, until it becomes a rich syrup. Add a little salt to enhance the flavor, and allow the glaze to cool.
  • Peel the oranges and slice into 1/4th inch slices (or a matching thickness to your beets).
  • Sprinkle the oranges and beets in alternating rows. Generously drizzle the glaze over the beets, then sprinkle the beets and oranges with an even layer of fried garlic (do not be heavy-handed, fried garlic is very potent). Finally, garnish with freshly picked mint leaves. I find that the more mint the better.

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.