I might be a living stereotype of someone who just moved to the hot, dry—and gorgeous!— Southern California desert, because now all I want to eat are aggressively flavored ingredients. I want everything a little bit spicy (fighting fire with fire), bright with all the citrus, and yeah, generally I’m eating light-ish fare: pickle-y salads, grilled things, and tacos.
I just temporarily moved from San Francisco, where I had what now seems like the luxury of a cooler climate. There it totally makes sense to have hot coffee and pho for breakfast, or pasta too many nights of the week. Those eating habits seem like a world away. Here, the heat is truly arresting—but it has turned me on to making some fun, quick-fire type dishes that are easy and yes, cooling, despite the spice.
These days, I mainly get inspiration from my weekly social: the Joshua Tree farmers market. Picture: peppers, citrus, and dates. And recently persimmons showed up. I immediately thought salad—but then reminded myself that this fruit is also really, really good grilled or pan-roasted, hot and fast.
It’s important to get super firm Fuyu persimmons for this. The idea is that you’re caramelizing the surfaces, so they taste extra persimmony, reminiscent of ripe apricot. If you start with soft persimmons, you’ll end up with mush. (Avoid Hachiya persimmons for this recipe. When they are firm, they’re inedible and astringent, like your mouth is filled with fur and is closing in on itself. Hachiyas should be eaten when very ripe and squishy like a sweet custard.)
The dressing here is like a vinaigrette, but instead of vinegar, I use lime juice, which adds a bright muskiness to the sweet persimmons and green broccoli. The peppers in the dressing are pounded into a chile paste that gets quick-pickled in the lime juice pre–olive oil. You’ll end up with about twice as much dressing as you need. That’s okay: It saves well in the fridge, and would be great with grilled chicken or pork. —Christian Reynoso
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Serves 2 to 4
medium firm Fuyu persimmons, cored and peeled (12 to 14 ounces total)
(about 8 ounces) broccolini
plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
habanero chile, halved, seeded, and roughly chopped
red jalapeño, halved, seeded, and roughly chopped
large garlic clove, peeled, and roughly chopped
- Slice the persimmons in half from top to bottom, then slice into 3/4-inch half moons. If there are any seeds, carefully poke them out with a toothpick or wooden skewer.
- Trim any dry ends of the broccolini stems and, if any stems are thicker than a pencil, make a lengthwise slit going up about 3/4 up the stem, but not slicing completely in half. (This will help the broccolini cook more evenly, while still allowing all the pieces to fit in the pan at once.) Toss the prepared broccolini in a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Make the chile vinaigrette: In a mortar and pestle, grind the habanero, jalapeño, and garlic into a paste with 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Some small discernible pieces are okay, but this should be mostly smooth. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and whisk in the honey, juice from 2 of the limes, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Now, heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Let it get very hot, then add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Once that’s shimmery, add the broccolini so it fits in a single layer and cover with a lid. Don't move the broccolini as it cooks, so it sears, caramelizes, and lightly chars. After 3 minutes, take the lid off and flip the broccoli, cook for another 3 minutes until the broccoli is still sturdy but with an al dente texture. Transfer the broccolini to a serving platter.
- With the pan still at high heat, sear the persimmons hot and fast, in a single layer. As with the broccolini, do not move the persimmons—if you do, it will make them lose contact with the pan and stop caramelizing. Turn a piece over after 2 minutes and, if it’s golden brown, turn off the heat and gather the persimmons on the platter with the broccoli.
- Drizzle with half of the dressing and serve warm or at room-temp.