I fell hard for persimmons about 10 years ago. I saw the squat, peach-colored fruit at the supermarket, and picked one up on a whim. I enjoy buying fruits at the grocery store that I’ve never seen before, and giving them a try. It often works out well for me. That’s the way I was introduced to beloved fruits like figs and rambutan.
The flavor of a persimmon is somewhere between a peach and a pear. And like a pear, the fuyu persimmon can be eaten while it’s crunchy or after it has ripened and become soft and juicy inside. Eaten in hand like an apple, it can be devoured in its entirety, except for the occasional seeds and greenery on top.
The key, though, is picking the right persimmon.
See, what I didn’t know all those years ago is that there are two kinds of persimmons – the fuyu that I’ve discussed here, and hachiya. To tell the difference between the two, note that the fuyu is flat bottomed, while the hachiya is heart-shaped. (You can see the fuyu persimmon in the background of the pictures on this post.)
The first year that I got into persimmons, I went on a walk in my old neighborhood. I noticed that my neighbor had a persimmon tree, and I was delighted with my good fortune. I planned to come back that evening when no one was around, climb up on their fence, and pluck one from the tree.
That night, David and I wandered down our darkened neighborhood streets, I grabbed a persimmon, and trotted home, eager to bite into it. After giving it a thorough wash, I took a bite and was greeted with a mouthful of chalk. The inside of my mouth felt coated and dusty.
Unlike a fuyu which is a delight at any stage of its ripening process, the hachiya has to be overly ripe to be eaten. A ripe hachiya should feel like a water balloon in your hand. At that point, it can be scooped into and eaten like a fruity pudding.
Let’s just say that after that my neighbor was safe from those hooligans trying to steal their persimmons. I stuck with the store-bought fuyu.
In addition to persimmons, today’s salad recipe includes that other fall favorite, delicata squash. I prefer delicata to other squash, because you don’t need to peel it. There’s no hacking away with a cleaver. The skin roasts beautifully, and because the delicata is smaller, it’s easy to cut into and remove the seeds.
I often have roasted delicata squash in the autumn months as a simple side with a sprinkling of rosemary and salt. Its mild sweetness also works well in tacos, tofu scrambles, and as a pizza topping. (I simply roast the squash first on its own and then use it as an ingredient wherever I desire.)
While my normal day-to-day salads are heftier affairs with every ingredient I can find in the refrigerator, sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to have a few chosen ingredients that balance each other. The sweetness of the squash, persimmons, and caramelized onions play against the vinegar-based dressing and salty pistachios particularly well. They all meld together beautifully, and the color is the picture of fall.
I’ve made this salad for Thanksgiving many times. In fact, I shared this recipe several years ago, but I have since updated it to reflect my current preferences.
Have persimmons ever fooled you?