I discovered this beautiful and unusual salad several years ago at my friend Jora’s house. Although I’d heard of persimmons, I couldn’t tell you what they looked like or how they tasted! Thankfully, that changed as soon as I ate this salad. It was love at first bite and now I look forward to seeing them in the store every fall. Funny how that happens!
For those like me who aren’t as familiar with persimmons, they have been grown in Asia for centuries but are also found throughout America, including a native variety specific to the Eastern US. However, there are two main Asian varieties sold in markets, the Fuyu and the Hachiya.
The Fuyu is squat and flat, shaped more like a tomato and should be eaten when it’s just barely soft. The Hachiya is longer and more oval shaped. It can be extremely tart if eaten before it’s ripe.
Here we use the Fuyu Persimmon, which happens to be my favorite. When purchasing, look for orange and firm-fleshed fruit.
This recipe incorporates all of my favorite qualities and balance in a salad; sweetness from the persimmon, tartness from the pomegranate and lime, heat from the chile, smokiness from the cumin, crunch from the walnuts, softness from the fruit. It’s a fine introduction and also makes a fantastic Thanksgiving side dish, if I do say so myself. I’ve made it these past two years and I just love the color and flavor it brings to the table.
Have you had a persimmon before? Do you like them as much as I do? If so, I hope you’ll share a new persimmon recipe with me!
- 2 pounds Fuyu persimmons
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/4 pomegranate)
- 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Cut off the tough green calyxes and slice each persimmon in 10 to 12 wedges.
- In a small lidded jar, combine the lime juice, cumin, about half of the chile, a dash of salt and the walnut oil. Tightly cover and shake hard to mix well. Taste the dressing on a small piece of persimmon. There should be just enough chile to add a suggestion of heat. If you'd like it hotter, add more and shake again.
- Combine the persimmons and the dressing in a work bowl and toss to coat well. Turn the salad out into a decorative bowl and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cilantro. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if necessary.
- (Walnut oil gives a nice flavor, but I've used olive and safflower oil and it works fine, too.)