As the summer stone fruit began to rapidly dwindle in early September, some of our seasonal fruit growers from the outlying areas of the Central Valley eventually made their exit from our weekly farmers’ markets for the season.
A time for a much deserved break after a grueling summer season that first kicked off the first week of May with the cherry harvest. Despite the end of the stone fruit season, the work on these family farms never really stops, and just around the corner is the wait of the start of their citrus crops. For many, this comes to a head this week.
Those deliciously sweet seedless satsuma mandarins have made their official return to market, the first major variety indicating the citrus season is under way.
Incredibly easy to peel, these are a favorite among my family, with my kids putting on down at least a half dozen each per day since bringing them home for the first time this past weekend. And I must admit, I have been consuming a similar quantity on a daily basis, they are just that good.
In addition to enjoying satsuma mandarins as they come, I like incorporating them into both fruit salads with assorted berries, as well as mixed green salads. I find their flavor profile very well complements both a Chinese chicken-style salad, as well as salad with more bitter greens such as frisée or escarole.
This week I prepared a simple spinach and frisée salad topped with peeled satsuma mandarins, grilled chicken, green onion, feta cheese and pistachio kernels. You can easily omit the chicken if you’re a vegetarian and omit the cheese if you’re a vegan. When tossed in a mandarin-based dressing, the sweet flavor of the juice balances out the robust flavor of the spinach and frisée.
Spinach and Frisée Salad with satsuma mandarin sections.
4 cups spinach leaves, stems discarded, washed and dried
2 cups frisée greens
2 satsuma mandarins, peeled and white portion pulled off
3 green onions, cut into thin angled rounds
4-6 ounce chicken breast, cooked and diced or sliced thin. (I like seasoned and grilled.)
1/2 cup raw pistachio kernels (or almond slivers or sliced almonds)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese.
Satsuma mandarin dressing
1/4 cup satsuma mandarin juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper
Whisk all dressing ingredients together well before serving.
Place spinach and frisée in a mixing bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of your salad greens. Plate into two separate bowls and top each with equal amounts of remaining ingredients. Drizzle top with an addition of 1 tablespoon of dressing each. Adjust to taste.
Yields: Serves 2 full salads.