“So, what are you going to do with all those?”
…Carole asked, looking at the bag of little Cuties, as we tidied up the kitchen from the cookie making. “I dunno,” I answered. She told me that she’d used some in a chicken couscous dish the night before.
I just love miniature things – like the littlest star cookies we’d just made – and small plates for an entire dinner, and the little cutlery we set to go with them. And, the mini ravioli I put into broth for a quick soup. And, miniature carrots and squashes. And, my little Mom.
So, a bag of these of California mandarins (or clementines, or tangerines, or whatever they are called) are just too tempting not for me to get at least once in the season.
Kevin West, in his gorgeous and encyclopedic Saving the Season: a cook’s guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving, says,
“Left to their own devices, citrus hybridize easily, even rampantly. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and the rest–in fact all 1,036 varieties housed at the Citrus Variety Collection and untold others growing around the world–descended from just three primordial ancestors.” Those ancestors are the pomelo, the citron, and a primordial mandarin orange.
Whatever their heritage and this year’s name, I love their sweet taste and their low calories.
Using those Cuties
I like to include a bowl of peeled clementines at a happy hour spread, since they go so nicely with cheese, or crackers, or just by themselves.
They can always brighten up a drink, too. Last night, my husband Mark tossed a few into my white wine spritzer. Yum.
And, of course, you can use their juice in a vinaigrette, instead of lemon or vinegar.
I already had planned making Sunny Mexican Chicken for dinner. I wanted to make something light to go with that.
When Carole mentioned couscous, I thought of the multi-color quinoa I saw yesterday in my cupboard. (All my grains are on the same shelf.)
I had a bunch of curly parsley, and another of scallions. An avocado on the counter had just gotten to perfect ripeness.
With the Cuties instead of tomatoes and lemons, with the quinoa instead of bulgar wheat, with the avocado instead of any feta cheese, and a few other seasonings, I’d have a Californian/South American version of tabouli: Tangerine Tabouli.
Mark said it was the first time he’d really liked quinoa.