I had never eaten a persimmon before moving to California, but these days I've come to anticipate the arrival of the sweet orange fruit. That said, I still have a problem finding uses for it (other than slicing a piece and popping it in my mouth, of course), so I was pleased to try Tara Mataraza Desmond's expertly balanced and alliterative persimmon, pomegranate, and pistachio salad from her new cookbook, Choosing Sides. Peppery arugula leaves and delicate slices of anisey fennel add crunch and vegetal depth to the otherwise sweet assemblage, making for an excellent accompaniment to heavier Thanksgiving dishes.
Why I picked this recipe: I'll happily sample all the new persimmon recipes I can get my hands on.
What worked: The lemon-honey vinaigrette gently brought the sweet, tangy, and bitter flavors together into a cohesive whole. And I was appreciative of the colorful aesthetics of the dish—it's a real knockout.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: I tossed the arugula mixture in the vinaigrette before placing it atop the persimmon slices, which I gave another drizzle in order to make sure that everything was properly dressed. Desmond suggests multiple substitutions for the lemon, if you want to mix things up. Add pomegranate molasses for more tang, balsamic vinegar for sweetness, or soy sauce for extra umami.
Reprinted with permission from Choosing Sides: From Holidays to Every Day, 130 Delicious Recipes to Make the Meal by Tara Matazara Desmond. Copyright 2013. Published by Andrews McMeel. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/3 cup safflower oil (or another mild-flavored oil like vegetable or grapeseed)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Finely grated zest of 2 small lemons
- 2 medium ripe Fuyu persimmons
- 1 small pomegranate
- 1/2 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios, chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced or finely shaved on a mandoline
- 6 packed cups (about 6 ounces) mixed greens or arugula
To make the vinaigrette: Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, and honey together. Drizzle the oil into the juice in a slow, steady stream while whisking rapidly and constantly until the vinaigrette thickens slightly. Add the salt and lemon zest and whisk again to incorporate. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days until ready to use. Whisk again to re-emulsify the vinaigrette before using.
For the salad: Use a sharp paring knife to cut the skins off the persimmons and then slice the fruit into very thin rounds (if you have a mandoline, use it set at smaller than 1/8 inch). Line a large platter with the slices. Cut the pomegranate into quarters and tap out the arils, or juicy, edible seeds, from within. You’ll have to do some work with your fingers to separate the arils from the peel and white membranes, which you can
discard. Toss the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and fennel with the greens and pile the mixture on top of the persimmons. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.
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