Alhambra Farmers Market
Another week brings another trip to the Sunday morning farmer's market. With these sunny days and chilly nights, your immune system is working harder to keep running at optimum level. Luckily with the cold winter season we also get fortifying winter citrus fruits!
Ronnie from Gonzaga Farms puts it this way: When the seasons change, nature doesn't completely take away all of it's bounty. It provides them in different sources, a la seasonal produce. The winter citrus has lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals your body needs to cope with changing weather conditions (needless to say this completely sold me, as I walked away purchasing several bags full).
Clementines are a variety of the mandarin orange, which are typically seedless, easy peeling citrus with super sweet, juicy flesh. Introduced to California in the early 1900's, their popularity has really grown in the past 20 years, after they stepped up when harsh winter conditions devastated Florida orange crops in the 90's. Many supermarkets now carry the "Cuties" brand clementines, a joint venture between three large California citrus growers. This is a food that parents wouldn't mind their kids eating more of: Like all citrus fruits, clementines are a great source of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. When eaten raw you get the full benefits of its antioxidants and amino acids.
When choosing, (as typical with most produce) pick clementines that are heavy for their size. Look for those whose flesh is firm, but beware of rough skin as this can be a sign of drying out. The skin should be a vibrant orange and very supple. Giving it a gentle scratch will release the highly fragrant essential oils.
Because it's easy peeling and seedless, you can juice them with relative ease. But I tend to just eat them as is (I don't even bother separating the segments, opting to just stuff the whole thing in my mouth). If you prefer a less brutish approach, try segmenting it and adding to a salad. Combine it with strong flavors that can stand up to the citrus zing; arugula, fennel, blue cheese and spiced nuts. For an umami boost, try this recipe from Chef Jose Andres, who adds Spanish olives and anchovies (warning: video plays automatically). Make a vinagerette to marinate fish and chicken before grilling. I have yet to try the clementine cake recipes circling the blogs (Nigella Lawson's is the one most referenced), as it requires boiling whole clementines for two hours. My ideal way to end a meal would actually be a combination. Fresh clementine segments usd in a clementine cocktail, with the leftover peel used in a candied clementine chocolate tart.
What's your favorite way to eat a clementine? Got any sweet/savory recipes? Let us hear them in the comments, or send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org