This citrus salad, made with grapefruit, tangerines and navel and blood oranges, is equally at home as part of your brunch spread or served as a refreshing low-sugar dessert. A sprinkle of orange blossom water gives it a heady fragrance., February 2023


Credit: Brittany Conerly

Recipe Summary

20 mins
35 mins

Hundreds of nutritious fruits, vegetables and grains are indigenous to the African continent, where the cuisines of each country and region are as diverse as the crops that grow there. Our series, African Heritage Diet as Medicine: How Black Food Can Heal the Community, explores the African Heritage Diet and highlights some of the most nutrient-dense foods found on the African continent and treasured by the diaspora. This dietary pattern—introduced by Oldways—promotes health outcomes associated with longevity and increased vitality and features foods that are most likely to be available worldwide.

A Trip to North Africa Showed Me Just How Satisfying Fruit Could Be for Dessert

At one of my first meals at the home of friends who would later become chosen family in Dakar, I was surprised when a beautiful basket of mangoes was passed at the end of the meal, and folks went about paring them and eating them as their dessert. 

As one who has never had a sweet tooth for pies and cakes, I was delighted to discover that the rich, sweet desserts that are typically the ending flourish of an American meal are not a part of the numerous culinary traditions on much of the African continent. In Morocco, I was greeted in my hotel room by a blue-and-white bowl filled to the brim with fruit, reminding me of the fruit bounty of the country—natives of Tangier are even called Tangerines. In the Ivory Coast, pineapples are a way of life, making an appearance in just about every meal when they are in season. In Western Africa, fruit is especially on display at dessert time when it takes pride of place.

This fruit-for-dessert mantra has been taken to heart and become a large part of the African Heritage Diet Food Pyramid that was designed by Oldways Preservation and Trust. Back when we were working to develop the Pyramid, which sought to highlight the foods, eating patterns and rich cultural heritage of the African diaspora to help reduce the risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, we were all delighted at how reconfiguring the typically less-nutritious course made for a more rounded and still satisfying finish. No one was against the idea of finishing off the meal with a small bit of sweetness, so the idea of fruit as a finish was another way to incorporate more produce into one's diet.

I keep to it today and often surprise friends with this colorful and refreshing citrus salad at the end of a meal. It's based on a traditional Moroccan starter of oranges, radishes and orange flower water, but I find that it works perfectly as a dessert. If I'm in New Orleans, much of the citrus may come from my garden, where I grow everything from Meyer lemons to kumquats as well as the mint that is used for a garnish. My body may be in the Crescent City, but after one bite I'm transported to the shores of the Mediterranean.


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Using a sharp knife, slice both ends off each citrus fruit and remove and discard the peels and white pith. Cut the fruit into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, removing any seeds. 

  • Arrange the citrus slices on a serving platter. Whisk orange flower water, lemon juice and orange juice in a small bowl. Drizzle the juice mixture over the citrus slices. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and pomegranate arils. Cover the salad and let stand for 15 minutes for the flavors to meld. Garnish with mint before serving.


Orange blossom water is an aromatic distillation of bitter-orange blossoms. Look for it with the drink mixes in Middle Eastern and Indian markets.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup
117 calories; protein 2g; carbohydrates 28g; dietary fiber 4g; sugars 20g; added sugar 1g; vitamin a iu 1145IU; vitamin b3 niacin 1mg; vitamin c 95mg; folate 40mg; vitamin k 1mg; sodium 2mg; calcium 81mg; magnesium 19mg; phosphorus 37mg; potassium 279mg; niacin equivalents 1mg.