Clementines came to prominence in the United States as a European import about 30 years ago, when a domestic freeze made oranges scarce, according to the USDA's Healthy Meals Resource System. Tangy, sweet, easy to peel and usually seedless, they've become popular around the country. U.S.-grown clementines are available starting in the fall.
• Good for the Diet
Culinard chef Michael McGhee notes that this month's recipe is diabetic-friendly because clementines are smaller than regular oranges and have less sugar. Clementines are low in calories, high in vitamin C and a good source of calcium, dietary fiber and vitamin A.
• Fine With Wine
Chardonnay makes a good accompaniment for the bay scallop dish, says McGhee, who sought input on a wine pairing from Emily McHenry, sommelier and general manager at The Wine Loft in Short Pump (also his sweet-heart). "The calcium minerality of unoaked Chardonnay goes with the bay scallops tasting like the ocean," he says.
• Faithful Gardener
According to The Citrus Industry , published by the University of California, the name clementine comes from Brother Clément Rodier, an Algerian monk who was thought to have created a hybrid. However, there is also evidence that this citrus variety originated in China.
Pan-seared Bay Scallops with Clementines and Cauliflower
Michael McGhee, the program director of Culinard, the Culinary Institute at Virginia College (7200 Midlothian Turnpike, 977-5100) , provided this recipe. (Serves 4)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets and sliced 1/2-inch-thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 dozen bay scallops (about 2 pounds)
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
4 clementines, peeled and segmented
Julienned zest of 4 kumquats
3 tablespoons of Sicilian capers, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain well. Put the cauliflower into a food processor and purée until smooth. Season it with salt and pepper, and stir in 4 tablespoons of the butter. Transfer the purée to the top of a double boiler over low heat, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the purée and set it aside.
Warm the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Pat the scallops dry, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning the scallops as necessary, until they are golden on all sides and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice. Add the clementines, kumquat zest, capers and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and cook, while stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute.
To serve: Divide the cauliflower purée among four warm soup plates. Arrange the bay scallops on top and spoon the clementine-kumquat mixture over them. Serve immediately.