Fresh Mozzarella Winter Orzo Salad with Roasted Grapefruit and Tangerine

I feel the passing of each season by the produce currently in stock. The fruit bowl has been overflowing with juicy oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and clementines. Family has been dropping off freshly-picked-from-the-tree lemons, and I'm relishing each passing winter day. 

When it comes to fruits in season, I love nothing more than to simply eat them raw. They’re at their peak, dripping with juices, and filled with perfect deliciousness; but roasting does come second best. The juices caramelize, the edges brown, and somehow the flavors transform into something deep and magical and positively addicting. These roasted grapefruit and tangerine are nothing short of that. You can use them on yogurt, on your a.m. toast, and even in this warm orzo salad. And of course coupled with fresh mozzarella, it makes for a worthwhile salad.

This salad is infinitely versatile, with a simple dressing that can accommodate any topping. Add nuts, different vegetables, or even a soft-boiled egg. But you must keep the fresh mozzarella, it adds a lightness and freshness that makes everything tasty and perfect.

Fresh Mozzarella Winter Orzo Salad with Roasted Grapefruit and Tangerine

1lb orzo pasta

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

juice from half a lemon

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large beet, peeled

1 grapefruit, peeled and sliced

1 tangerine, peeled and sliced

3-4 slices Natural and Kosher fresh mozzarella

parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Place the beet on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through. Meanwhile prepare pasta according to package instruction.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Fifteen minutes before the beet is cooked, place the grapefruit and tangerine slices on the baking sheet to roast. Cook them until the edges are nicely caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the beet and citrus and let cool. With gloved hands, dice the beets.

To assemble the salad, toss the orzo with the grapefruit and tangerine slices as well as the beets. With your hands, tear the mozzarella slices and sprinkle throughout. Lastly, garnish with the parsley and serve. This salad can be served warm, room temperature or cold. Enjoy.