Persimmons look like and are an autumnal fruit. The persimmon season begins in September and doesn’t end until well into the winter. The fruit clings on the tree long after the branches are bare. Lowering temperatures help ripen it—softening the flesh and turning the orange skin a shade deeper.
Here are two salads that combine them with other pleasant associations of the season–nuts, dates, cinnamon, Port wine, purple shallots roasted crisp, and the last of the basil in the garden.
Persimmons… slow and late to turn sweet and good to eat…This quality has made them a visual metaphor for a man’s character, which in youth, like the sour, inedible young fruit, is still unformed and not very useful…but which, in maturity, after a long season of growth, is full of the sweetness of wisdom and experience of age.
Autumn Salad: Persimmon Variation ~ I ~ (for 8 people)
Variation ~ I ~ combines persimmons with lettuces, hazelnuts, and fresh dates in a Port Wine Vinaigrette. The salad is loosely based on one from The Culinary Institute of America’s An American Bounty, a collection of recipes from the Insitute’s restaurant by the same name. The vinaigrette is from the same source.
Ingredients: (An amount that would be enough in a salad course for 8 people is given for the persimmons. Increase or decrease the amounts of the other salad ingredients according to the number of people, whether it is a salad course or a meal.)
- A variety of lettuces, torn in pieces (The salad in the photo contains Boston lettuce, Romaine, and Arugula.)
- 3 persimmons, sliced and cut in pieces
- Some hazelnuts, browned in the oven at 400 F for a few minutes, cooled, then coarsely chopped
- Some fresh dates, pitted and cut in bite-sized pieces
- Manchego cheese, sliced in fine shavings to sprinkle over the salads
2. Toss with Port Wine Vinaigrette just before putting the salad on plates.
3. Scatter shavings of Manchego cheese over each salad.
Port Wine Vinaigrette for Persimmon Variation ~ I ~ (for 10 – 12 people)
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of walnut oil
- 2 Tablespoons of Port wine
- 1 Tablespoon of cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon coarse-grained mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil
- a food processor is useful but not essential
1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend them together well:
2. If you don’t want to use the vinaigrette right away, refrigerate it. Bring it back to room temperature before you use it. Port Wine Vinaigrette may be stored cold for many weeks.
Autumn Salad: Persimmon Variation ~ II ~ (for 10 people)
Variation ~ II ~ spices fresh greens with cinnamon. The source of this recipe is Yotam Ottolenghi, a native of Israel who has become a successful London chef and restauratuer. Mr. Ottolenghi writes a weekly column, The New Vegetarian, in The Guardian. The column is not, despite its title, solely vegetarian, but it does combine foods in new and innovative ways.
- A variety of lettuces, torn in pieces (Pictured above, and used in the salad, are Boston lettuce, Romaine and Arugula)
- About 1/2 cup of whole fresh Basil leaves
- 6 small or 3 large shallots
- about 1/3 cup of pecans, browned in a 400 F oven for a few minutes, cooled, and coarsely chopped
- 5 persimmons, cut in wedge-slices
- Manchego cheese, sliced in thin shavings, enough to scatter on 10 salads
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the shallots in thin slices, mix them with a little olive oil and spread them on a baking sheet. Grind some fresh pepper over them and roast them about 12 – 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Put them aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine the lettuces and the basil leaves.
3. Just before serving, mix the vinaigrette with the greens and divide the greens among the salad plates. Sprinkle some roast shallots over each plate of lettuce, then some pecans. Arrange a few slices of persimmon on each salad and finish by scattering shavings of Manchego on them.
Cinnamon and Balsamic Vinaigrette for Persimmon Variation ~ II ~ (for 10)
- 3 Tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar
- 8 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- a few grinds of fresh pepper and salt
1. Whisk all the ingredients together and mix the vinaigrette with the greens and basil leaves right before arranging the salads on plates.
A Note: Autumn Salad: Persimmon Variation II is the salad course for the Dinner Menu: A Welcome Dinner for an Out-of-Town Visitor who has Traveled Far.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011