by Anouk Booneman
The Holiday Season has started, and I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving kickoff. While I love to cook, I am always very happy to be invited over to share a holiday feast. My small contribution to these evenings consist of two salads, that will probably be part of the winter salad rotation, since they are not only delicious, but also use seasonal, healthful ingredients.
The first recipe is a Persimmon Radicchio salad based on a recipe from the New York Times. These days Radicchio di Chioggia is a common supermarket vegetable. It’s often mixed into prewashed salad mixes, but you can also find it alongside the lettuces. Radicchio leaves are bitter and pair really well with items that counteract that bitterness. Think fruits, goat cheese, walnut and balsamic vinegar for example. I paired my radicchio with candied walnuts, purchased at Trader Joe’s, walnut oil, shallot, pomegranate seeds and persimmon. While there are over 400 different varieties of persimmons cultivated globally, Fuyu persimmons are the ones that can be found in our area. This particular variety can be eaten at different stages of maturity. Other varieties really need to be ripe to be enjoyed. When fully ripe the flesh of the Fuyu persimmon transforms into a jelly like structure.
My second salad is based on a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen blog (a favorite). I always have large amounts of butternut squash in my winter CSA box and am always looking for recipes that use them. In my variation, I used arugula, feta cheese, and omitted the pomegranate seeds since they were already in my other salad. I also added some cabbage massaged with olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Both salads were absolutely delicious.
Persimmon salad with pomegranate and walnuts.
1/2 cup of walnuts
2 TBSP of sugar
shallot finely sliced
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
3 TBSP walnut oil
8 ounces radicchio, Trevino or other chicory leaves
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
For the candied walnuts I used a ready-made mix found at Trader Joe. However, they are really easy to make. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Put walnuts in a small bowl. Pour very hot water over walnuts for one minute then drain. Add sugar and salt. Mix to coat nuts evenly then spread them on the parchment. Bake for 7 to ten minutes, until crisp and caramelized. Cool then break them apart.
Core and cut persimmons into 1/2 inch wedges and transfer to a salad bowl. In the meantime make a salad dressing with the finely sliced shallots, salt, sherry vinegar and walnut oil. Dress the persimmon with the dressing. Add the radicchio leaves and gently toss with hands to coat leaves. Scatter the pomegranate seeds over the top and garnish with the walnuts.
Prepare the squash and shallots: Heat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle or brush parchment lightly with olive oil and sprinkle the oil with salt and pepper. Arrange winter squash slices in one layer on parchment. Coat lightly with more oil, salt, and pepper.
Place shallot halves on a square of foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil and kosher salt. Tightly seal foil around them into a little packet and place on the baking sheet with squash.
Roast squash and shallots for 15 minutes, until the squash is lightly brown underneath. Flip the squash pieces and carefully open the foil packet with the shallots. Return the tray to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the squash is evenly brown. The shallot will not be brown or look caramelized, but will be tender, which is all we need. If you’d like, you can return the open foil packet to the oven for another 10 minutes for more color and flavor, but I rarely bother.
Make the dressing: In a blender or food processor, whiz warm shallots with 4 tablespoons olive oil until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the machine running, add dijon mustard and 3 tablespoons vinegar, blending until smooth. Season well with salt and pepper, blending again. Taste and adjust with more vinegar, salt, and pepper as needed. If the dressing is very thick, you can thin it with 1 to 2 tablespoons water.
In a large wide bowl or salad plate, toss greens with half the dressing and season with additional salt and pepper. Arrange roasted squash over the greens, fanning out slices if you wish. Sprinkle salad with pomegranate, goat cheese, and pepitas and drizzle some of the remaining dressing over, to taste.
Serve right away, with extra dressing on the side.