It’s two days after Thanksgiving. Not easy to talk recipes and such. Perhaps you still have leftovers. Perhaps you still feel full. Perhaps you’re still digesting that extra slice of pumpkin pie. I know that I am.
So, I thought, I’ll share a salad. Something fall. Something festive. Something lighter than a plateful of potatoes and stuffing.
Funny things happen, sometimes, when I create a recipe. I’ll add a little of this, maybe a little of that. Ooh, that would be a good addition. And the next thing I know, that light salad is, well, not so light. But it did turn out delicious. It would make a great weekend lunch.
Grilling the persimmons brought out the sweetness in the fruit as well as gave them a dense, meaty texture. Make sure to choose firm-ripe fuyu persimmons for this recipe. They soften on the grill.
Making homemade candied walnuts is easier than you think. It only requires diligence to watch that they don’t burn, as well not falling into temptation to eat them all before they go in the salad. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, just because of that! I always have a bagful of Nicholas Farms walnuts in the shell to feed my backyard squirrels. They are delicious and so fresh. If you don’t want to shell the walnuts, feel free to use already-shelled walnuts.
The pomegranate arils add a necessary piquant pop to the salad. There are many good online tutorials on removing the seeds from the shell. They taste so much fresher. Plus, better for the environment not to buy plastic packaging when possible.
The Vegan Feta from Trader Joe’s is an incredible product. Vegan cheese can be off-putting to many, I know. This plant-based feta is so close to the real thing I had to read the label the first time I tried it. It’s bathing in brine but much less salty and sharp than the dairy-based version. It’s quite lovely on the palate.
The dressing is a lime-mustard vinaigrette. Again, simple to assemble and no unnecessary additives that can be found in bottled dressings. Knowing the basics of vinaigrette is a good tool to have in the kitchen. It’s simple to change the flavor by changing the components.
Grilled Persimmon Salad
4 firm ripe persimmons
Neutral oil such as grapeseed
3-4 cups arugula
½ cup pomegranate arils
½ block vegan feta, crumbled
¾ cup Rosemary Maple Candied Walnuts (recipe follows)
Lime Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Heat the grill to medium low. Remove the stems from the persimmons. Slice the persimmons about ¼ inch thick, horizontally. You should get about 4 slices per fruit. Lightly brush the persimmons with the grapeseed oil and grill about 5-7 minutes a side, until you get char marks, making sure not to burn the fruit. All grills differ, so you’ll have to watch as you grill. Once done, remove from grill and let cool to room temperature, then cut in half. To make the salad, plate the arugula on the bottom and arrange the persimmons, pomegranate arils, feta and walnuts in groupings around the platter. Serve the dressing on the side for guests to dress their own salads. If you want to toss the salad instead of plating on a platter, cut the persimmon slices into smaller chunks and then put all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and dress to taste.
Rosemary Maple Candied Walnuts
1 ½ cups shelled walnuts
2 tsp walnut oil
3 T good maple syrup
½ tsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
¼ tsp fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toss the walnuts with the oil to coat. Add the other ingredients and toss well. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread the coated walnuts evenly across the pan, making sure that they don’t touch, or you’ll get a big clump of nuts. Roast about 8 minutes. Stir up the nuts, again trying to keep them separate, and roast another 6- 8 minutes, checking every few minutes that they don’t burn. All ovens differ, so be attentive to cooking the walnuts. Set your oven timer. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. They will crisp up as they cool.
1 T fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp sugar
1 T minced shallot
Fresh black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ -2/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
Mix the lime juice, vinegar, salt and sugar to dissolve. Add a few good cracks of fresh black pepper and the mustard and combine well. Start with a ½ cup of EVOO and whisk in slowly. Taste for seasoning and vinegar to oil ratio. Add more salt and oil if desired.