The Hand Off: Pomegranate, Pear and Persimmon Salad
by Brianna Bain
Winter is here in the Northern hemisphere and in many places people have started receiving CSA boxes full of cold stored root veggies like beets and rutabagas. Many also turn to supplementing their winter harvests with dried goods to traverse the winter lull of fresh local produce. Not here in San Diego; although we do get our run of rutabagas and other cool weather roots, a broad selection of fruits and vegetables thrive in the low winter sun. Positioned 32.81 degrees north of the equator I have access to a full year of fresh local produce, one of the many perks of living in Southern California.
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As mentioned in my Tuesday post I was able to drop into a few of my neighbors’ yards and pick the produce I needed to get my salad started this week. All but the persimmons came from my dear friends which I purchased from a local market. I had a choice between Hachiya and Fuyu but banked on Fuyu for their extremely soft and sweet condition. In the past I have made the mistake of buying persimmons that were not quite ripe enough with the expectation of using them right away. Persimmons need to look over-ripe, so soft that you can leave a dent with the gentle pressure of your finger. I also had a choice of several greens from my friend Katherine, but arugula won the taste test when imagining this sweet and spicy leaf paired with some fresh winter fruits. The pomegranate and pear came from my friends Katie and Danny. The fruit from their property are unusually amazing in taste and texture. I have never experienced a pomegranate with such richly dark red seeds and Asian pears so huge, sweet, light and crisp – perfect for salads. Often you will find unusual varieties of fruits and veggies from your neighbors, where there is more room for experimentation in selecting for personal edible landscapes. In comparison larger scaled farmers, who feel the pressure of a return on investment and competition in the marketplace, narrow their selection down to the more reliable producers. So go explore your neighborhood, you never know what new unique food you will find or new friends you will make!
I kept things really simple and straight forward for this salad, which makes for an easy quick bite, side salad or full meal. It came out super tasty and the best part – it was almost entirely sourced from my friend’s gardens which resulted in a little extra feeling of satisfaction.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 large pear (or, 2 medium pears)
- 1 large bunch of arugula
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 persimmons
- 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 lime juiced (or other desired citrus)
- salt, to taste
- Wash and dry arugula, trim or chop into small pieces.
- Chop pear into small bite size pieces and set aside.
- Remove seeds from pomegranate and set aside.
- Cut persimmons in half and scoop flesh into a food processor. Add lemon, garlic, salt, rice wine vinegar, and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
- Arrange arugula, pear, and pomegranate on a plate. Drizzle with persimmon dressing and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
- Take pleasure in the bright, crunchy, and fresh fruits of winter!
This salad could easily handle the addition of a mild creamy cheese like a crumbled goat ‘s milk or saltier sheep’s milk feta. For meat eaters grilled chicken would be best but I think this salad is better served simply as a side to a light fish or chicken. The dressing was a first time experiment. I toyed with keeping things even more simple by blending the persimmon on it’s own as using it as a dressing but, I opted for a touch of savory to balance the sweetness of all the fruits. I have found few ways to enjoy this extremely sweet and rich winter jewel beyond desserts. How do you enjoy persimmons? I would love some more ideas. I look forward to hearing what you think of this salad and any other suggestions you might have for persimmon dressings.