It's November, and time for Clementine oranges to finally show off at our markets. I'm so fond of them that I can hardly stop peeling those marvels and eating their delicate sections one by one, very slowly, when I start… Good news is, there is no reason not to satisfy your hunger for clementines in every possible way. Because these cute little citrus fruits are packed with flavor and a real gift from nature.
They fit in your pocket… or bulkhead
Clementines are a natural treat for paddlers, because they’re small and easy to peel. You can carry them along in your PFD's pocket or in your kayak day compartment. And it’s funny to realize that once peeled, their zipper-style peel provides a natural container for those wonders. Contrary to oranges, which are much bigger, 2 clementines will count for one portion of fruit. What a bonus!
It is also very interesting to try to incorporate clementines in differents culinary preparations because they really do add loads of personality to any dish. This is particularly true with vegetable-based recipes, such as salads and cold appetizers.
Algeria or China?
Some say that the clementine was developed in Algeria early in the 20th century by Father Clement Rodier, a French missionary. Others say that the Clementine was rather "invented" much earlier in China and was eventually brought to the Mediterranean. Today’s Clementines are grown in Spain, Morocco, South America, and in California. The market for California clementines shot up in 1997, when a particularly harsh winter in Florida killed off the orange production there. Since then, clementines have become a more and more popular winter treat.
A gift to one’s immune system
Available from mid-November to February, they can help us maintain our immune system through the long winter months. Packed in a deep orange exterior, with a smooth glossy skin, the clementine splits easily into separate segments that are almost always seedless. And it packs a nutritional punch: two small clementines not only equal a full portion of fruit but they also provide you with half your daily vitamin C requirements. Since humans don’t produce their own vitamin C, we need to get it from an outside source. Vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, which helps maintain everything from skin to ligaments and bones. It also helps to absorb iron. But the nutritional value of clementines doesn't stop there. As well as being an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and potassium, they contain only 35 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates. They also contain more than a gram of fiber, to help maintain healthy digestion.
More health protection
Recent research has shown that the clementine, along with its other citrus cousins, provides us with various antioxidants that are efficient barriers against invaders. Studies released by the World Health Organization explain that this lovely citrus fruit can help prevent chronic affections such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The findings suggested that a diet rich in citrus fruits could help reduce the risk of developing some cancers by as much as 40%. But it’s easy to forget that clementines are so good for you when you eat them. They are perhaps the sweetest and juiciest of oranges and are great to eat as a snack. But they’re also great served up in a quick salad, and chefs like to serve them up with grilled fish too.
Grilled tilapia with clementine salsa (2 portions)
- 2 large tilapia fillets (or any other firm white fish)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 clementines in sections, thinly chopped
- 6 large stuffed olives, chopped
- 1 red onion, thinly chopped
- 1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly chopped
- Salt, pepper to taste
In a pan, heat half the olive oil and cook the fish over medium-high heat 4 minutes. Turn over and cook the other side. Set aside. In the meantime, mix all the ingredients of the salsa in a small bowl, including remaining olive oil, and season to taste. Serve on the fish with some rice or couscous.
Asian clementine and noodle salad (2 portions)
- 1 small bag baby spinach
- 4 Clementines, in sections
- 1 cup chop suey
- 2 cups Asian noodles, cooked and drained
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup extra-firm tofu, diced
- Fresh cilantro to garnish
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
- Dash of Thai hot sauce
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp dark sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together with a whisk. Set aside to blend flavors. In 2 large bowls arrange baby spinach, add chop suey, noodles, clementines, sun flower seeds and tofu. Add cilantro. Just before serving, pour dressing onto salad, toss and serve.
Shaved fennel and clementines antipasto (2 portions)
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 3 clementines, in sections + juice of 1 Clementine
- 8 baby Bocconcini cheeses
- 2 tbsp pesto
- 12 slices dry salami
- 2 green onions (shallots), thinly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine shaved fennel, clementines, clementine juice, Bocconcini cheese and pesto and mix gently. Season to taste and arrange on a plate. Add salami on the side. Sprinkle with green onions and serve with croutons.