This is my favorite season for salad. I love the sturdy, bitter greens of winter, and am eager to consume as many persimmons and pomegranates before their time ends, all too soon.
This salad was inspired by Food Blogga’s riotously colored salad of dandelion greens, persimmons and medjool dates, but of course we couldn’t let well enough alone. We definitely wanted persimmon arils in there, for their tart-sweet bursts of zing. Fresh fuyu persimmon and toasted pecans added sweetness and crunch. We also wanted to offset the dandelion greens with another green that would temper the bitterness and add some lift; the dandelion greens are so flat, they are sometimes difficult to get on the fork. Some lovely chioggia chickory did just the trick, the flecks of red mirroring the red dandelion stems and bright pomegranate pips.
But the biggest diversion was by replacing dates with hoshigaki. To the uninitiated, as I was just a year ago, hoshigaki are hachiya persimmons that have been peeled, then hung to dry. (In Japanese, hoshi=dried and kaki=persimmon; when words that begin with a “k” sound are merged with words that end with a vowel sound, the “k” converts to a hard “g.”) During the drying process, they are gently massaged. During this process, sugars bloom to the surface, resulting in a fine, powdery coating. This lengthy and meticulous process has earned them the nickname of the Kobe beef of persimmons.
Hoshigaki are enjoyed as a tea sweet in Japan. Despite the concentration due to evaporation and the blooming of the sugars, they are actually fairly subtly sweet, with a flavor and texture that I find reminiscent of sweet potato. They’re certainly a rare delicacy stateside, but if you’re lucky you can buy yourself some right now from We Love Jam. While you’re there, pick up some of their BBQ sauce. It’s awesome.
Tossed with a simple vinaigrette, this salad was the perfect tonic to the richness of the boar and risotto. It was alternately sweet, bitter, tart and earthy, but all in balance. It lifted and refreshed the palate. This is why we often have salad after the entrée, in the Italian style. After all, you need to rekindle the appetite to make room for dessert.
Susan’s salad of dandelion greens, persimmons and medjool dates was our root inspiration.
Elise’s persimmon pomegranate fruit salad is right up my alley.
Slow Food USA offers up more sources for hoshigaki.