Wednesday 7 February 2018

A bit of Summer on my table

Persimmons are everywhere at the moment, they fill the local and ethnic shops with their gorgeous orange/red colour. They are also known as sharon fruit – a trademark name of a non-astringent type that is grown in Israel. It’s been one of my favourite fruits since I was a child. There are two main varieties of persimmon we can get in the UK at this time of the year: the more astringent hachiya, and the non-astringent fuyu. Kaki, which is persimmon in Japanese, is the name we adopted in Brazil but with a slightly different spelling: caqui.

When ripe, the flesh gets really soft and it has a very sweet flavour. But when unripe it will leave your mouth full of tannin. The persimmon variety I find near where I live is the astringent one. I enjoy eating the fruit, use it to make salads, or in desserts.

This week I walked past my local shop, where they supply different seasonal vegetables and fruits. This month they are stocking up on these delicious fruits.

Mixing the persimmon with a beautiful oak leaf lettuce, that came with my vegetable box, plus the palm hearts I had on my store cupboard, I brought a bit of Brazil to my table. The result was a refreshing, crunchy, sweet and sour salad.

I made a quick dressing I learnt from my friend - the salad queen Betina - but instead of using red onion, as she taught me, I used banana shallots. It tasted just as good as hers.

Hachiya persimmons.
Tinned palm hearts.
My persimmon, palm hearts, lettuce salad with shallot dressing.
How I made it:

For the dressing, I chopped half of one banana shallot, grated about 1 cm of fresh ginger, squeezed the juice of half lemon, added a full teaspoon of maple syrup, followed by a little bit of cold water (Bettina’s tip). Mixed everything and reserved.

For the salad, I peeled two persimmons, sliced them and placed them around the rim of a plate. I washed a handful of lettuce, sliced 3 palm hearts * and assembled them in the centre of the plate. I poured the dressing over them, drizzled some extra-virgin olive oil. I scattered some pink peppercorns and mint leaves. Seasoned to taste.

*I buy the tinned palm hearts in specialists shops like Panzer’s, major supermarkets or Brazilian/Portuguese delis.

A healthy note: Persimmons (Diospyros) are high in vitamin C. They are a good source of fibre and contain good amounts of potassium, magnesium and iron. Research has shown that persimmons have the ability to lower blood fats.
With great amounts of carotenoids, persimmons are a potent antioxidant, which protect against free radicals.

Till next week!

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