Seasonal fruit is a little thin on the ground in Britain during the winter months. It is an austere time of the year when you can be forgiven for looking beyond our shores for a natural sugar hit. Thankfully, our days are brightened by golden globes of various citrus fruit and the lesser appreciated persimmons.
The persimmons you will most likely find in your neighbourhood supermarket are likely to be the variety grown in Israel. They are also known as Sharon fruit named after the valley in which they grow. These make economical eating (although not in terms of the monetary value ascribed to them) as they can be eaten whole skin, seeds and all. A deep amber in colour they look rather like a sungold cherry tomato on steroids topped with a papery, brown cap. They have a unique flavour but if I were pushed I would say they fall somewhere between a plum and an apricot (although not as juicy as the former).
Their firm texture means they slice well and can easily be incorporated into a salad. I have paired them here with a rich and creamy Brillat Savarin cheese and tossed in some walnuts for added texture. The piquancy of the pomegranate molasses prevents this combination from becoming cloying and the pomegranate seeds are aesthetically pleasing but also add another textural dimension. They’re not essential so leave them out if you like.
Incidentally, a lightly chilled sparkling white or rose wine, such as Ridgeview’s Victoria, is an excellent drinking partner for this dish.
- 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2tbsp walnut oil ( or more olive oil)
- 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic crushed with a little sea salt
- Pinch of sugar (optional)
- Salt & pepper to season
- 200g Brillat Savarin cheese (not too ripe – it shouldn’t be trying to escape from the fridge) or a mild goats cheese
- 2-3 ripe persimmons
- 200g mixed salad leaves
- 100g walnut pieces (or halves roughly chopped)
- Pomegranate seeds to garnish (optional – the seeds from one pomegranate should be ample but you can buy pre-packed pomegranate seeds in some supermarkets)
- To make the dressing put the oils, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and crushed garlic in a small jar. Replace the lid and shake vigorously until combined. Test a little to check the seasoning. Add salt and pepper according to taste and a pinch of sugar if it’s a little sharp. You can make this up to a day ahead if you like.
- For the salad, cut the cheese into 1cm cubes (I don’t bother removing the exterior of the cheese). Wash the persimmons and slice off the end with the stalk then cut into quarters. Cut the quarters into slices (roughly 4-5 per quarter). This stage can be done an hour or two in advance.
- Place the salad leaves in a large bowl and pour over 2 – 3tbsp of the well shaken dressing. Toss to coat then divide between 4 shallow bowls or plates. (You can pour the rest of the dressing into a jug and serve separately for those who prefer to drench their salad).
- Arrange the persimmon segments in a circular pattern on top of the leaves with the pointed edge facing outwards. In the centre of the fruit circle place some of the cubed cheese. Scatter with walnuts and pomegranate seeds if using. Serve immediately.