Citrus fruits always remind of edible sunshine, and Satsuma mandarins are among my favorites. They're easy to peel, and their flavor straddles the line between sweet and tart. I think it awfully nice of them to come into season during the darkest days of the year.
Their season coincides with the last of the persimmons. These mild, low-acid fruits pair well with the sharper flavor of citrus, and also with warming spices. I like to bake them into spicy tea cakes, galettes flavored with citrus zest, and crisps laced with tart cranberries and candied ginger.
I'd been pondering what to make for breakfast when the grapes for my favorite green smoothie ran out. Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories' exquisite post on monochromatic smoothies, I decided to blend together a bunch of orange foods into this creamy drink that tastes like an exotic Orange Julius.
I started with homemade cashew almond milk (which is approximately 1 million times more delicious than the shelf stable stuff and requires only nuts, water, a sturdy blender, and a nut milk bag). To this I added frozen slices of ripe Fuyu persimmon, Satsuma mandarin segments, a banana, and a couple of dates.
To flavor the smoothie, I went a little wild. I reached for the fresh turmeric root I've been keeping around to put in ginger tea and this soup and added some to the smoothie. Then I added a bit of vanilla bean and some fresh ginger.
I handed a cup to Jay. "This could be weird," I warned. But it surprised us both by tasting decidedly not weird. In fact, it tasted awesome.
This smoothie is sweet and creamy with a milkshake-like consistency. Tiny dots of vanilla bean seed add their friendly flavor. The ginger adds a kicky warmth, the turmeric earthy notes and a host of health benefits. The persimmon, satsuma, and banana all blend together, tasting vaguely tropical, and the dates add natural sweetness and body. We've been drinking them every day.
To me, it tastes like an Orange Julius for grown-ups: quaffable sunshine that happens to be healthy.
Wishing everyone a bright and sunny new year.
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Persimmon and Tangerine Smoothie with Vanilla, Ginger and Turmeric
Do yourself a favor and look for Fuyu persimmons and tangerines that are seedless – it will make the fruit preparation go a lot faster. I like Satsuma mandarins as they are reliably sweet and easy to peel, but other varieties will also work, as probably will navel or Cara Cara oranges. Peel the tangerines and separate them into segments. Cut the persimmons into large chunks or wedges. Freeze both on a rimmed baking sheet, then place them in bags or containers for storage.
Makes 1 quart (1 large or 2 medium servings)
2 cups cashew almond milk (below)
1 ripe banana
2 soft dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen Fuyu persimmon slices
1 1/4 cups frozen seeded tangerine segments (such as Satsuma)
1/2 teaspoon packed finely grated fresh turmeric root (or 1/4 teaspoon dried, ground turmeric)
1 teaspoon packed finely grated fresh ginger
1 inch vanilla bean, chopped (or a splash of vanilla extract)
Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour into glasses and serve.
Cashew Almond Milk
1 cup whole "raw" cashews
1 cup whole raw almonds
water, as needed (preferably filtered)