03 November 2014

Roasted Pumpkin, Cilantro, and Persimmon Salad


A friend gave me a nice bottle of fresh, cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil recently, and I've been using it everywhere I can, topping soups and forming the base of salad dressings, like in this recipe. It's deep green color and nutty flavor is irresistible and using the oil is a very small but effective way  to celebrate Autumn and make any dish feel special.

This salad is the epitome of a fall salad. Firstly, the platter style makes it's perfect for dinner party or holiday meal spreads, both of which we all seem to have more of this time of year. (Although I have to admit, I made this salad just for the two of us and we finished off 2/3 of it in one sitting.) But secondly, and more importantly in my book, with this salad I am officially welcoming in the beginning of persimmon season!


Persimmons are a special fruit. I love their uniquely sweet, citrusy taste, which changes to a headier sweetness when cooked. For this salad I thinly slice and serve them raw, allowing the tangy dressing and floral notes of cilantro to accentuate the persimmon's subtle citrus flavor.

This is an understated salad, which I like. It doesn't look like much but there's depth and layers of flavor from the fresh crunchy celery, cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds hidden amongst the curly endive. I chose a roasted mini tiger striped pumpkin to top the salad because it is sold everywhere here and couldn't be easier or quicker to prep and cook (when sliced thinly). These minis or a delicata squash are your gateway winter veg of choice if you're the kind who thinks working with pumpkin is intimidating.

mini tiger striped pumpkin


Persimmon Primer
With their sweet, slightly citrusy flavor, some describe persimmons as a cross between an apricot and mango or an apricot dusted with cinnamon.

In the U.S. there are two main types of persimmons commercially sold; Hachiya and Fuyu. Hachiya must be fully soft to eat because it has high levels of tannins and tastes bitter and astringent in its firm, unripe state. The Fuyu variety can be eaten when firm or soft, and a firm Fuyu is what you want for this recipe.

Here in Switzerland, the Kaki persimmon (also known as the Japanese persimmon or in the US, the Asian persimmon) is most common. From my experience Kaki persimmons sold here can be eaten firm and are similar to Fuyu. The skin color ranges from light golden-orange to a rich coral (reddish-orange), and I look to buy the deeper coral color, especially when I plan to eat it firm. However, I have read that some Kaki varieties have higher tannin levels and must be fully soft to enjoy. If you are unsure, ask your grocer.



Roasted Pumpkin, Cilantro, and Persimmon Salad
Serves 4-6

1 mini Tiger Striped pumpkin
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 head curly endive (also known as frisee lettuce or endive frisee) 
2 handfuls pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
Generous handful cilantro, chopped
1 ripe but firm Fuyu (or Kaki) persimmon
Tangy Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 F (218 C).

Halve pumpkin, discard seeds, and slice into thin wedges. Place on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss so both sides of pumpkin are coated. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until just tender.

In the meantime, chop curly endive and place on a platter (a large plate or a large, wide-mouth shallow bowl also works). Add sliced celery, half of pumpkin seeds, half of cilantro, and half of dressing to platter and toss gently to combine. Peel persimmon, halve, and thinly slice lengthwise.

Layer persimmon and pumpkin over salad and sprinkle with remaining pumpkin seeds, cilantro and dressing.

Tangy Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix everything together in a small bowl, and set aside.

Substitutions

  • Any small striped pumpkin variety works well here. Or use a winter squash such as Delicata (my favorite because you can eat the skin), Acorn, Butternut, or even sweet potato will work. But whatever you use, roast with the skin on; it's less work for you and it makes a pretty presentation. Diners can remove the skin themselves.
  • Arugula, radicchio, watercress, romaine, or a combination can be used in place of curly endive
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or another cold-pressed nutty oil such as sesame or walnut can replace the pumpkin oil.

11 comments:

  1. I honestly never know what to do with persimmons... Well, this solves that problem! Beautiful fall salad, indeed.

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    1. Thank you Ksenia. Persimmons are one of my favorite fruits and I use them a lot while I can get my hands on them. So there will definitely be more persimmon recipes coming your way to hopefully give you more ideas. ;-)

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  2. Katie, this salad looks so good! All the flavors of the season in one dish! Yum!

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    1. Thanks Grace. Capturing many seasonal flavors in one go makes me feel very efficient in the kitchen. ;-)

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  3. I am not a persimmon {Sharon fruit to us in the UK} connoisseur so I am glad to read more about them. I have maybe bought them a couple of times, eating them sliced and raw but it is good to know that they change a bit when roasted too. I think we must get the Kaki breed as they sound as you describe and they are nicely crunchy like an apple. I like simple salad like this too. Lovely, Katie. :-)

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    1. Thank you Kellie! Does your kaki variety ripen a bit so they're still firm but not crunchy, and possibly also sweeter at that stage? That's the ripeness I was going for in this salad. And yes, their flavor does change a bit when cooked. I'm hoping to share some cooked recipes as well.

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  4. I love hearty, warming salads like this for the fall. The pumpkin seed oil is such a wonderful idea for a salad dressing, too. I have to admit that I've never had a persimmon, but it's now on my list of things to try! From the way you described it, it seems like it would pair very well with the flavors of pumpkin. Thanks for the salad inspiration, Katie!

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Julia. I hope you can try persimmons. They are really nature's gift to us in the fall/winter when there are not an abundance of other fruit around. And yes, the pumpkin oil is really great in this salad.

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  5. I love that you have kept this salad simple Katie, simple foods are often the best (yet for some reason I always feel like I keep over complicating mine, I need to keep this in mind next time Im recipe testing ;) I have never tried a persimmon before, I dont think they are too common here. I need to keep an eye out for them, Im intrigued as to how they would actually taste!

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    1. Dearna, you're so right, it's much easier to over complicate a recipe than to keep it simple. I struggle with this as well. :) I hope you can get your hands on some persimmons over there. They have a lovely flavor, one that I can't imagine is offensive or takes getting used to to anyone. I know they're common in some parts of Australia but I have no idea about Tanzania. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

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  6. I remember finding persimmons in the store for the first time a few weeks ago. I was so excited ti create with them. They sat in my fruit bowl for awhile because I had no idea what to do with them. Finally, I added them to a smoothie! I wish I had seen this recipe because I would have made it right away!

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