Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Consider Clemntines

I love clementines. I love that they are cute and tiny and you can eat three in a single sitting. I love that they are so much easier to peel than oranges, so you can snarf them down at your desk or wherever you may be without squishing the fruit in the peeling process and making a big ol' mess. I love that they are sweet, never sour, as can sometimes happen with oranges, and you don't have to worry about seeds, either. And lastly, as pointed out in New York Magazine, they are in season now, in February, a bit of citrus-y sunshine in what has been an otherwise beastly cold winter.

Clementines are the tiniest of the mandarin orange family, aw, and are said to originate in the Canton province of China. As they are in season in the winter, as I mentioned above, they are also commonly referred to as "Christmas Oranges," and those funny wooden crates they always come in seem to imply that they would be a perfect present for a vitamin C-deprived friend or someone who is suffering from the winter flu or just the winter blues. While I enjoy clementines as they are, freshly peeled, and sometimes will sprinkle them over a salad, in addition to the neat recipe linked in New York Magazine above, I came across this great recipe from Bon Appetite, and plan on trying it this week! Instead of Chicken Broth, you can sub-out for vegetable stock instead if you want to make it vegetarian (Lent starts this week and a common thing to try is being vegetarian, or so I have found, and this will be a nice thing to try as you explore vegetarian options in lieu of meat for 40 days!)

  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 10-ounce package plain couscous (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 clementines
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 12 large green olives, pitted, quartered lengthwise
  • 6 dates, pitted, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Bring broth to boil in small saucepan. Mix couscous, 1 teaspoon salt, and olive oil in medium bowl. Pour boiling broth over couscous mixture. Stir, then cover with plastic wrap. Let stand 15 minutes.

Peel your clementines; chop peel. It should be easy to peel it with your hand in one nice strip but you can always try with a vegetable peeler if need be, although I feel like then you run the risk of squishing the fruit inside. Cut flesh into 1/4-inch pieces. Combine chopped peel and flesh in small bowl and set aside. You can also just grate the peel if cutting it into mini pieces is too tedious.

Bring chickpeas with liquid to boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chickpeas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain chickpeas. Gently fluff couscous with fork. Add chickpeas, olives, dates, mint, and clementines. Stir to incorporate evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bon Appetite also includes a mini-tutorial as to how to remove the "pith" or white stuff that sometimes remains attached to the fruit after peeling, but I like to eat it. It doesn't seem to taste like anything to me, and Chinese folklore says it is an anti-carcinogen, so if you're into that sort of thing, go nuts!

Yummy! And the fact that this also includes dates, so much the better. It would be interesting to try this recipe with straight up figs as well, but dates are perhaps a bit easier to use/not quite so squishy.


  1. Where is a good place to buy fresh fruit in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, if you know?

  2. Pacific Market on Court and Pacific Street is nice. There is a fellow who stands outside in warm weather and sings "samples, free samples..." over and over again! But the selection is fabulous. They have clementines and asian pears and every yummy seasonal thing you can imagine! Trader Joes is nice too, just a few blocks away....IF you can brave the lines! And there is always the Union Square Green Market, my personal favorite!

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