Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours: Citrus

We’re immensely chuffed to launch a new monthly column today!  Author and passionate self-taught cook Julia Busuttil Nishimura will be joining us each month, sharing a snapshot of the seasonal flavours in her kitchen, along with one super easy, recipe. SO EXCITED!

Julia kicks off the column today with a fresh, flavour-packed salad inspired by an ingredient that’s juicy and abundant at this time year – citrus!

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
20th of August 2019

Winter, and especially August, is prime citrus season – blood oranges, mandarins, lemons, tangelos, grapefruits are abundant, and can be seen hanging heavily on trees around the neighbourhood. My neighbour has a burgeoning lemon tree in their yard, I can see it from the street and sometimes they put out a basket filled with motley lemons for passers-by to take. It’s a common sight along footpaths in neighbourhoods where people have too much fruit they can’t use, from a tree probably planted long before they lived there.

In the depths of winter, when the fruit bowl is lacking, beautiful citrus (even better if they’ve been picked with some leaves left on), can bring sunshine to even the greyest day. The heady aroma of homegrown lemons and the contrast of the bright fruit and dark green leaves bring warmth, light and endless possibilities into my kitchen.

As we edge a little closer to spring, I want to make the most of the citrus which will soon come second-best to the emerging peas, broad beans and the first berries of the season. This is a recipe for a simple weeknight salad that is wintry at heart, but also very light and refreshing. Roasted cauliflower has become a staple in many households, ours too – here roasted with a very simple scattering of freshly ground spices, olive oil and salt. Slices of lemon and orange and plenty of herbs join in for the perfect antidote to the cold weather!

This salad keeps well too, so is great as lunch the next day. I like to use a variety of citrus here, a mixture of bitter, sour and sweet fruits are the perfect balance, but just use what you have on hand. Be generous with the herbs – think of them more as part of the salad rather than simply a garnish. If you want to make this salad a little more substantial, some cooked chickpeas, lentils or beans would be a lovely addition.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Roasted Cauliflower and Citrus Salad


80g natural almonds
500g cauliflower (around 1/2 a head), trimmed into large floret
1tsp cumin seeds, coarsely ground
1 tsp coriander, coarsely ground
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1 small bulb fennel, fronds reserved
3 citrus of your choice, a mixture of orange, grapefruit and lemon is nice
Large handful each of parsley, mint and coriander leaves

Harissa dressing

1tsp harissa paste
Small clove garlic, finely chopped
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp red wine vinegar
Zest of half a lemon


Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper.

Arrange the almonds on the tray and roast for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the tray and allow to cool then roughly chop and set aside.

Meanwhile place the cauliflower into a bowl and sprinkle in the ground cumin and coriander seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with sea salt. Use your hands to ensure the cauliflower is well coated in the spices and oil. Spread onto the prepared tray that the almonds were on and roast for 30-35 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and lightly golden, turning occasionally if needed. Set aside to cool.

 Thinly slice the fennel, either with a sharp knife or a mandolin, and place in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the other ingredients (I do this with the herbs also). If I have a lemon lying around, I squeeze some juice into the water and drop the lemon itself in too. The acid will help keep the fennel crisp and bright. Drain and dry just before you are ready to assemble the salad.

Prepare the citrus by removing the ends of the fruit with a sharp knife so they can sit flat on the board, and then cut away the peel and any white pith. Slice the fruit into 5mm rounds and set aside.

For the dressing, simply place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Season with sea salt and check for a balance of flavour. If it needs more acid, add some more vinegar or more harissa to add some extra spice if desired.

Now simply assemble all of the salad ingredients together onto a large serving platter and drizzle over the dressing. 

What else I’m cooking with…

Bitter leaves like radicchio and witlof, pears, new season rhubarb and brussels sprouts pan-fried with a little pancetta.

What I’m eating…

The most incredible banoffee pie from Beatrix with a not-too-sweet salted caramel custard, passionfruit layered amongst the banana and pillowy mounds of crème fraîche. This pie (and everything they make) stand out from the crowd!

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