We’re food people, so Thanksgiving is our holiday. Preparations begin weeks in advance. If we’re smart, a spreadsheet is involved. If we’re very smart, we prepare as much as we can in advance. (We’re usually not that smart, even with the best of intentions.)
As the turkey timer winds down, not a surface is left uncovered, not a pot left unused in the glorious ballet of kitchen chaos. All available hands are plating, mashing, whipping, and carving. The CO detector usually goes off in the middle of this madness, from using the oven and most of the burners all day. Last year, the turkey ended up resting in a hallway.
Somehow, we all land around the table, and someone says “go!” And if we’re lucky, we still have room for our plates on the table amongst the feast.
It’s not that we’re gluttonous – I just think we all want our favorites for Thanksgiving, and it’s a time when we look forward to creating all these special dishes for each other.
As family Thanksgivings moved from my grandma’s house to either my parents’ or my own house, old favorites came along. There’s turkey, of course, though it’s been upgraded from frozen Butterball to fresh, Amish-raised. There must always be stuffing (a.k.a. dressing) and mashed potatoes, because where else would you put the gravy? Sweet potatoes have evolved quite a bit over the years; the marshmallows of old have been replaced by ginger and maple syrup.
This carb-fest is usually balanced out by various and rotating vegetable dishes. This is where we get the most variety. Last year, my brother-in-law, Ben and his wife, Natalie, made some delicious green beans with pecans and tarragon. The previous year, Ben hand-shaved a large amount of fresh brussels sprouts and tossed them with a lemony dressing.
This year, I was looking for a fresh fruit salad to bring to Thanksgiving at my mom and dad’s, and I created this persimmon salad. Persimmons are a fruit I only recently discovered. They’ve easy to use if you can get them at the correct state of ripeness. There are no peels or seeds to discard, just remove the stem and dice them up. They pair prefectly with apples and pomegranate seeds, two other great fall fruits. The sweet-spicy dressing with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and honey brings it all together, creating a fresh and crisp salad that pairs perfectly with your choice of Thanksgiving carbs.
This salad is also a great excuse to try this technique for seeding a pomegranate in water. What’s your favorite technique?
Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad
For the salad...
- 2 Jiro persimmons see note below
- 1 large honeycrisp apple
- 1 pomegranate
- 3 tbsp fennel, minced
For the dressing...
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 valencia orange, juiced
- 1 generous pinch of salt
Remove the stems from the persimmons and cut into a small dice
Core the apple and dice into small pieces.
Score the skin of the pomegranate in quarters. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water. Placing the pomegranate under water in the bowl, pull the quarters apart and gently loosen the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the pieces of white membrane will float to the top. Pour off part of the water and the membrane pieces and drain the pomegranate seeds in a colander.
In a large bowl, combine persimmons, apple, pomegranate seeds, and minced fennel.
In a smaller bowl, combine ingredients for the dressing. Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.
Pour dressing over salad, and toss gently to combine.
Optional: garnish with green fennel fronds before serving.
You may find a few different kinds of persimmons in the store. I use Jiro persimmons for this salad, one of the more common varieties. They look like a slightly-flattened orange tomato. They are ripe when they feel slightly over-ripe by tomato standards, or almost gelatinous under their skin. Read more about persimmons on Wikipedia.