December - Merry Christmas, Old Fruits

Janet Wynne Evans shares her thoughts and recipes on fruit (salads) of the season

Clementines and DatesCitrus fruits are never better than in the depths of winter and a fruit bowl groaning with bright, glossy-leaved clementines provides the basis of the perfect antidote to pudding, mince-pies, chocolate and Stilton. Add ruby pomegranate seeds, dates and nuts and your palate will be rejuvenated. So will the rest of you given the number of vitamins and antioxidants coursing through this low-calorie lot.

I thought I'd invented this divine winter combination myself on a creative afternoon until I found a near-identical recipe by Skye Gingell and a very similar one from Allegra McEvedy, two proper chefs whom I admire immensely. Ah well, only eight notes in an octave and what exquisite taste we three girls have, clearly.

I do claim credit for two things, however. Firstly, the heavenly match this salad makes with good Sauternes, especially if you are going the honey route, and secondly, the use of rosewater as an alternative. In the latter case, an obvious alternative partner is gewürztraminer, but have no fear, this is a pudding that is exceptionally wine-friendly.

I give our respective recipes below. Mix, match and enjoy the delights of a truly seasonal and thoroughly healthy treat.

Superbowl Fruit Salad

  • 4 clementines or 2 large oranges
  • a large red pomegranate (they seem juicier and tastier than the yellow ones)
  • a handful of fresh dates, chopped
  • a handful of shelled pistachio nuts
  • a tablespoon of orange flower water
  • a teaspoon of good-quality rosewater
  • thick Greek yoghurt to serve

If using oranges, it's worth peeling them with a very sharp knife, removing all the pith. Over a bowl, to catch the juice, slice carefully between the membranes and slide out the segments. Clementines are more fiddly, so I just peel and segment them, pith and all. They still taste wonderful. Arrange in a shallow bowl with some of the juice.

Add the dates, orange flower water and rosewater.

Halve the pomegranate and tap out the seeds with a meat hammer, catching the blood-red juice in a bowl. Dig out stubborn ones with a teaspoon and this time remove any vestiges of pith. Depending on the size of the pomegranate you may only need half of it. Add some of the juice to the salad for dazzling colour. Save the rest of the seeds and juice to add to breakfast porridge with the remains of the yoghurt.

Let the flavours combine for an hour or so. Just before serving, sprinkle with the pistachios, and serve with Greek yoghurt.

Sky Gingell's Clementine and Pomegranate Salad
(Published in Waitrose Food Illustrated, Christmas 2012)

Serves 4

  • 60ml clear honey
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 4 clementines
  • 50g pomegranate seeds
  • 6 stoned medjool dates, quartered lenthways
  • Small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp mascarpone

Put the honey in a small pan over a low heat and bring to a simmer. Add the almonds and stir well to coat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then set aside.

Slice the tops and bottoms off the clementines, then slice off the skins. Cut between the membrane and the flesh to remove the segments and pace them in a bowl, squeezing out any extra juice as you go. Stir together with the pomegranate seeds, dates and mint.

Divide the fruit between 4 plates, add a dollop of mascarpone alongside, and finish by spooning over the almonds.

Allegra McEvedy's Salade Sheherizade (sic)
From Allegra McEvedy's Colour Cookbook (Kyle Cathie, 2006)

Serves 6

Chef's note: keep this in the fridge, and consume within a couple of hours

  • 10 clementines
  • 150g halva (the one with pistachios works really well)
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (halve and bash with a meat hammer)
  • 1 tbs orange blossom water, or orange juice
  • 2 tbs runny honey

Choose a plate that will contrast with the colours of the completed dish.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends off the clems so you just hit the flesh and they can sit flat on their top or bottom. With a serrated or a really sharp paring knife, hold the clem with one hand and carefully cut away the skin and pith in a gently arcing motion, top to bottom in sections. The idea is just to cut away the skin and membrane without losing a lot of flesh. Continue until you have a naked fruit.

Now that you have your perfectly pithless clems, roll them on their sides and slice each one into 4-5 rounds. Put them on the serving plate in whatever fashion grabs you.

Cut the halva into 2cm x 1cm rhomboids, or diamonds, or just crumble it over the top of the clems.

All that is left to do is to sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with the orange flower water. Just before you serve, give a final drizzle with some of your favourite honey, but nothing too perfumed.


Friendly: Monbazillac Château Pech La Calevie 2009 (ref FC25101, £11.95) or Muscat, Saint-Jean de Minervois, Domaine de Barroubio 2011 (ref FC23721, £12.50

Premier League: The Society's Exhibition Sauternes 2010 (ref BW4181, £19.00) or Beerenauslese, Umathum 2010 (ref AA1242, £13.95 half bottle)

Director's Box: Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive, Hugel 2005 (ref AL9381, £33.50) or Château Guiraud 2008 (ref BW4242, £20.00 half bottle)

December 2013

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