Persimmon and pomegranate seed salad with walnuts and radicchio

I made this David Tanis recipe yesterday, inspired by its seasonality and lovely colors. I didn’t know what to expect, knowing radicchio is bitter, but not knowing how it would pair with persimmons and pomegranate seeds. This turned out to be one of the best salad I’ve ever had.

When I headed to the farmer’s market yesterday, I thought this would be the perfect recipe in which to buy all ingredients from the farmer’s market and recreate. It looked so beautiful from the photo, plus I love the simplicity of David Tanis’s recipes. I confirmed that persimmons, pomegranates, and radicchio were all in season in California in early October. So, off to the farmer’s market I headed with persimmons and pomegranates on the mind.

There were a lot of pomegranates in season. Nearly every fruit stand was selling pomegranates, pears, peaches, pluots, plums, quince, etc., (I did pick up some pluots and quince, two things I’ve never had before yesterday!), but there were no persimmons to speak of. I asked around, and it turns out they won’t be in the markets for another couple of weeks. There are a few random stands out in front of the Ferry Building that I typically ignore, but I knew I had to check every last stand before leaving.

I ventured to the front with an offer of toffee from a vendor. I accepted. Then, my friends, I stumbled upon persimmons. I had actually never tried persimmons, so I told the man working the stand, and he let me try one. My initial thought was that it was not sweet, but had the texture of a soft apple. So there you go, an expert review of persimmons. I said that I hadn’t been able to find persimmons anywhere so far, and he said his stand was the only one he knew of that had persimmons right now. I thanked him, so relieved. I grabbed two ($1.50 each), and called it a day, and victoriously scurried back to BART to begin my (25-minute) trek back to Oakland.

Once I was home, I photographed all of my farmer’s market goods, because I am trying to be better at documenting my cooking life.

The persimmons are the yellow ones in the middle towards the right.

I promptly began preparing the lettuces by slicing and then cleaning them. Once everything was cleaned, sliced, and put away, I made a quick treat of greek yogurt, sliced pluot, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, honey, and cacao nibs. I went on a walk with Gary, because I’m not a neglectful dog mom. Then… I pulled up the salad recipe, and pulled out my goods.

I started by slicing the pomegranate. And it had been so long since I’d sliced a pomegranate, I had forgotten the best technique. So, I googled it and found this helpful video that did not disappoint. I was surprised to see that, for the first time ever, I had a pomegranate that did not have the deep red-purple seeds. They were nearly clear, with a yellow tint! I tried one, to make sure it was fine. It was delicious, maybe even sweeter than what I’ve had before, and I started gobbling them by the handful. But I had to show restraint because I needed them for my salad.

Pomegranate seeds!

I first whipped up the vinaigrette for the recipe. It consisted of a finely sliced shallot soaked in red wine vinegar with a little salt for ten minutes. (Note: Here I differed from the recipe; it called for sherry vinegar. The red wine vinegar was more than delicious though.) The shallot is soaked in vinegar because it helps infuse the vinegar with delicious shallot flavor. During the ten minutes, I sliced the persimmons. Then I whisked in 3 tbsp. of walnut oil to the vinegar and shallot, and seasoned with a little salt. I dipped a radicchio leaf into the vinaigrette to test for needed adjustments, and I almost lost my mind. I did not think such a simple vinaigrette could become so flavorful and perfectly paired with radicchio. Radicchio is a hard lettuce to satisfy, not any vinaigrette will do, but this was synergistic, and I knew I was in for a treat once the salad was full composed.

From here, all that was really left was to assemble the salad. I first added the persimmons and coated with the vinaigrette.

Persimmons tossed in the vinaigrette.

I added in the radicchio, and added 1-2 tbsp. more vinaigrette and tossed it together. Once tossed, I sprinkled the pomegranate seeds and previously-roasted walnuts on top. (Note: the recipe calls for candied walnuts, but I had roasted walnuts already in the fridge, so I decided not to put in the extra effort there. It was fine.) Then I set up a photoshoot for my salad.

The finished product brought tears to my eyes.

And that was the journey to create this beautiful salad. Now that I’ve made it, I will be buying persimmons, pomegranates, and radicchio whenever they’re in season. I bought walnut oil especially for this occasion, and I am so glad that I’ve introduced it into my culinary world. It has a nutty flavor that is so perfect paired with the radicchio, and I’m excited to use it in new cooking applications.

This recipe should serve around 4, but for the actual composition I’m leaving up to you and how much you want to add of each item — use this as a guiding point, but use common sense when adding in the vinaigrette. Don’t be afraid to save the vinaigrette if you don’t use all of it, and serve it with only the radicchio or any other lettuce for a simple house salad later. Use your hands to mix the salad with the vinaigrette, and only add 1 tbsp or so at a time into the salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces roasted walnuts
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. walnut oil
  • 3 medium Fuyu persimmons, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 head of radicchio, or other chicory
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (OR MORE)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Make the vinaigrette: Combine vinegar and shallot with a bit of salt, and let sit for ten minutes. Then, add walnut oil.
  • Assemble the salad:
    • Toss persimmons with some of the vinaigrette to ensure they’re all coated. Then add the radicchio and more vinaigrette until the leaves are all coated and it tastes delicious (season with salt and pepper, if needed).
    • Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and roasted walnuts on top. Taste again and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Serve!