There's something about persimmon--its rich jewel-like color, the delicate floral flavor and silky texture that I can't get enough of in fall and winter. In the South, where I grew up, persimmons are baked into puddings and stirred into ice cream. Make sure to choose them ripe, otherwise they can be astringent and inedible. A very ripe "hachiya" variety is best with the top removed and the sweet jelly-like flesh scooped out with a spoon or, better yet, a thin sugar cookie or almond biscotti.
As for this salad recipe, I'm not a great fan of sweet or fruity vinaigrettes, but wanted to experiment with persimmon. Paired with hardier greens, like frisée, endive, spicy arugula, and escarole or treviso, persimmon really shines. Use a ripe fuyu for the salad itself and a very, very ripe Hachiya for the purée that will go into the vinaigrette. —kimsunee
2 to 4
cup very ripe persimmon purée (preferably the Hachiya variety)
4 to 5
cups combination baby frisée, arugula, sliced endive or treviso
slices thick-cut bacon
tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
tablespoons walnut oil, such as La Tourangelle
Garnishes: celery leaves, fresh mint leaves, toasted walnuts
*To make persimmon purée: Remove top of very ripe persimmon and scoop out flesh with a spoon; purée in a food processor; place in a medium bowl and set aside. Place washed and dried lettuces in a large bowl; set aside.
Cook bacon until crisp. Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from pan. Turn off heat but while pan is hot, add shallots and stir. Add 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Pour hot bacon-shallot mixture into persimmon purée. Add remaining tablespoon vinegar and whisk in walnut oil. Drizzle lettuces with vinaigrette and toss gently.
Divide salad among 2 or 4 plates. Garnish with fresh celery leaves, mint leaves, and toasted walnuts. Top with a slice or two of bacon, depending on how many servings you are making, and some persimmon slices. Season with flaky sea salt and a few cracks of fresh ground black pepper. Serve at once.