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Clementines and dates with mascarpone, pistachios and pomegranates

Perfect as petits fours or a quick and simple winter dessert, this recipe is a fabulous combination of contrasting tastes, textures and colours. In The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Judy Rodgers described the dish as a union of sweet, acidic, juicy, dry, creamy, crunchy, soft, floral and nutty. It’s a treat for all the senses, beautiful to behold and eat.

Medjool dates are naturally extremely sweet, however their fibre content and the addition of mascarpone in this dish help to lessen the impact on blood glucose levels.

With many very sweet foods and beverages, sugar is rapidly absorbed causing a surge in blood glucose levels which is countered by our body flooding our system with a hormone called insulin. This rapidly removes sugar from the bloodstream causing a significant drop in blood glucose levels. These substantial fluctuations can leave us feeling unwell, lethargic and can affect our sense of fullness and satisfaction after eating.

However, when small amounts of sugar are eaten as part of a mixed meal containing fibre, protein, unrefined starch and fat, the effect is significantly lessened. If you are concerned about your sugar consumption, leave out the honey in this dish.

If you prefer a dairy-free version, try using a cashew based cheese or nut butter as a substitute for the mascarpone.

Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.

Clementines and dates with mascarpone, pistachios and pomegranates from Nourish by Jane Clarke

Recipe created by Nourish cook and Dietitian, Clare Gray.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4-8

Ingredients
3 tablespoons raw, shelled pistachios
1 pomegranate
8 Medjool dates, ideally fresh but good quality dried dates would also work well
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated
4 clementines or tangerines
2 medium oranges or blood oranges
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 tablespoons honey. Heather honey works especially well (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C. 
  • Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast for approximately 5 minutes, set a timer so they don’t brown or burn. 
  • Remove from the oven and once cooled, chop roughly Half the pomegranate, hold the cut piece in your hand over a mixing bowl and tap the outside of the pomegranate firmly with a wooden spoon or rolling pin to extract the seeds. 
  • Pick out any of the bitter white membrane that may have dropped into the bowl. 
  • Set aside.
  • Using a small sharp knife, cut off the top and bottom of the citrus fruits you are using. 
  • Cut away the peel and pith by slicing down the outside from the top to the bottom, following the contour of the fruit.
  • Cut across the fruit in thin slices. 
  • Alternatively, cut individual segments from the fruit or do a mixture of both. 
  • Catch any of the juice from the fruit and add this to the pomegranate seeds.
  • Slit each date open, on one side only and remove the stone but keep it whole.
  • Mix the lemon zest and orange blossom water into the mascarpone and stuff each date with the mixture.
  • To assemble, scatter the clementine and orange segments over a plate and place the dates on top of the citrus. Scatter over the toasted pistachios and pomegranate seeds.
  • Finish by drizzling with honey.

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