Some days at the market the sun is shining, the temperature is moderate, the harvest is abundant, and the PERSIMMONS ARE RIPE. Today was that day!
Rare, these days, as the persimmon season is short, and persimmons, like avocados, seem to be perfectly sweet, slightly firm but with give, and without that pucker-causing characteristic they sport when under ripe, for oh, say 3 hours, roughly.
Okay, I exaggerate. But not by much, so when I bit into a sweet sliver of Engels Farm fruit from this weekend's Texas Farmers' Market sample table, I was gleeful. Made a beeline to their stand. I even asked for the seconds--those with maybe a soft spot or a blemish of some sort, but there really weren't any. The table, and the boxes behind, all filled with the shiny orange globes of perfect persimmons.
Now there's no question that these farmers, artisans, and food producers are among my favorite friends and most respected vendors at the market, but I've to to say their produce and products are some of my favorite as well. I was giddy with glee at my treasure, and I was pretty sure that they had all provided the elements of a pretty darned impressive winter-season salad.
Y'all! I was right.
Let chèvre soften at room temperature for about an 30 minutes.
Tear Hot Shot Mix greens and young purple cabbage into bite sized pieces. Rinse well and drain. Wrap to dry in paper toweling. Set aside.
Pare persimmons by slicing thinly from bottom to top, stopping short of top cap. Discard cap.
Shave young fennel bulbs with a sharp knife. Chop tender fronds and set aside for dressing.
In a small skillet over medium heat, warm ham slices until slightly crisped. Remove from pan and slice into lardons.
In a large mixing bowl. Toss greens, cabbage, and shaved fennel with approximately 2 T extra virgin olive oil. Remove to layer greens on salad platter.
In same bowl, add 2 T mandarin balsamic vinegar, 2 T water, and 1T chopped fennel fronds to softened chèvre. With a wire whisk, combine ingredients vigorously until all combined, adding water as necessary to yield a pourable dressing. Season to taste with a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Top greens with ham lardons, nutty crunch topping, and persimmon slices. Half pomegranates with a knife, and squeeze halves, juice and seeds topping persimmons.
Plate individual salads and serve with side cups of Citrus Chèvre dressing.
If you find yourself in the Austin area this Wednesday, December 5, please stop by the Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller for their mid-week market, where I'll be stirring up the Seasonal Best from 6:00 to 8:00pm.