Persimmon Salad with Fennel
Notes: Consider adding a cup of fresh chopped watercress to this salad for extra flavor and color. As a dark green leafy vegetable, it adds extra nutrients.
About 98% of the persimmons sold in the U.S. are grown in California. The two main types of persimmons are Hachiyas and Fuyus. Hachiyas are oval with a teardrop shape, while Fuyus are more flat and tomato-like in shape.
Skin color is not an indication of ripeness, since persimmons turn bright orange before they are mature. Ripe Hachiyas are as soft as an overripe avocado. Fuyus can be eaten while firm or soft, much like an apple, skin and all.
Ripen persimmons at room temperature in a loosly closed bag to the appropriate stage for their variety. Turn fruit occasionally as it ripens. Refrigerate ripe fruit, unwashed, in a plastic bag, or freeze.
Fennel, which is sometimes called anise or finocchio, has been a Mediterranean favorite since the time of the ancient Romans. The fennel plant looks like a flattened bunch of celery with a large, white bulbous base and feathery green leaves.
The raw bulb is crunchy and celery-like in texture; both bulb and leaves have a slighly sweet, licorice-like taste. The licorice flavor is pronounced in raw fennel bulbs, milder when the vegetable is cooked.
"Fennel seed is unparalleled at relieving intestinal gas," according to Judith Benn Hurley, author of The Good Herb (Morrow, 1995).
- 1 fennel bulb, washed, trimmed (about 6-7 oz.), thickly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 med. ripe Fuyu persimmons (about 8 oz. total), washed, sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 tsp. fennel leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1-2 tsp. grated orange peel
- Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup) 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the oil, orange peel, orange juice, vinegar, and salt together in a salad bowl. Then slice the bottom off the fennel bulb, reserving some of the green leaves. Remove the tough outer leaves from the bulb. Then quarter and slice the bulb as thinly as possible. Chop finely a teaspoon or two of the reserved green fennel leaves. Place the fennel bulb and leaves in a salad bowl and toss immediately to coat all surfaces with the vinaigrette dressing.Then cut a small amount off the top and bottom of the persimmons. Slice each persimmon (skin and all) into 1/4 inch thick rounds and then into quarters. Add the persimmons to the salad bowl and toss gently to coat all pieces of persimmon with the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. You may want slightly more orange peel, orange juice, and/or balsamic vinegar. Also, if your orange is not very sweet, you may want to add a pinch or two of sugar.
Makes 4 cups. Each cup provides about 115 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, and 5 grams fiber.