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Persimmons add complex flavor to salad
One of the main rituals I have been observing for the last few years is the fall-winter harvest of pomegranate, persimmons and olives. Very shortly, I will be packaging and selling my own olive oil under the Café Collage label.
This week's recipe is definitely a signature dish, which could be an ideal starter for Christmas or New Year's Eve dinner.
Hachiya persimmons need to ripen before they can be used. They are acorn-shaped and extremely tannic with a strong astringency, though once ripe, their sweet taste is incredibly complex and aromatic.
Fuyu persimmons can be eaten like apples, either peeled or not, and preferably sliced thinly. When ripe, their taste is like honey.
Blending hachiya persimmon, lime juice and Dijon mustard for the dressing can be idyllic if you use the right amount of mustard. Taste your dressing while putting it together to calibrate the balance. It is fine to improvise if you feel like taking some calculated risks.
At Café Collage, we will serve this salad as part of our five-course dinner for New Year's Eve.
FUYU PERSIMMON SALAD WITH HACHIYA PERSIMMON VINAIGRETTE
Serves four to six
1⁄2 pound organic mixed greens
1 cup pomegranate seeds
4 Fuyu persimmons, cut in half then sliced thinly into 10 to 12 wedges
1 cup candied walnuts or pecans, see cook's notes
1 cup ripe Hachiya persimmon (when ripe, cut off the top and squeeze the ripe fruit out of the persimmon)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cook's notes: To candy the walnuts, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over low heat. Add the nuts and sauté lightly for a few minutes. Add 1⁄4 cup local blackberry honey and stir together until the honey melts and coats the nuts well. Using a spoon, separate the nuts on a flat surface to cool. The honey will dry as it cools.
In a food processor or blender (I use Blendtec), add all the dressing ingredients together and process until the dressing thickens.
Toss the mixed greens in a large bowl, gradually adding the dressing and tossing until you get the desired balance. It is often preferable to toss the salad in smaller batches in order not to under- or over-dress the salad. Ideally the greens need to remain fluffy and not collapse.
Serve the salad on individual plates. Place 6 to 7 persimmon wedges on top of the salad. Add the candied nuts and spread with the pomegranate seeds.
I tried to keep this recipe in harmony with the clean flavors of fall and winter. It is fine to add some goat cheese or fresh mozzarella, if you like.