After the gluttony of the holiday season, a big, leafy salad is perhaps the most wonderful thing in the world. And this one is no exception, with bright fruity flavors and a tangy citrus vinaigrette to top it all off.
Unlike a summer salad, which has a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables to choose from, this winter salad makes the most of the fresh fruits in season during this time of year, which are surprisingly more plentiful than you might think.
Persimmons, with their smooth sweet flesh, are entirely underutilized in today’s cuisine, and they are one of my absolute favorite additions to any salad. When they are in season I’ll buy them weekly, savoring every succulent slice and using them in everything from green beans to scones, until they disappear for another year.
If you’ve never had a persimmon before, they are sweet and mild in flavor, somewhere in between a pumpkin and a mango, with a smooth, almost custardy texture when ripe. Look for Fuyu persimmons, the ones that look like orange tomatoes, which are better for eating raw, especially when they are slightly under-ripe and still have a bit of crunch. Peeling them is optional, although I find the skin a bit tough and so will usually take the extra step to do so.
Sprinkled with ruby-like pomegranate arils and studded with segments of juicy citrus (we used tangerine, but blood orange, cara cara orange, or even grapefruit would be just as delightful), this salad is a veritable winter fruit wonderland.
You could also add slices of fresh pear or apple in addition to or in place of the persimmon or citrus, both of which are abundant this time of year.
To round out the salad we topped it with crumbled fresh goat cheese and candied pecans for added sweetness and crunch.
The dressing is a triple-threat of citrus, made with fresh orange juice, orange zest, and a lovely orange champagne vinegar (but you can use regular champagne vinegar as well) whisked with a bit of honey, extra virgin olive oil, and mustard to bring it all together. Might I suggest making a double batch and saving the rest in the fridge for later (it’ll keep in a jar or airtight container for up to a week). You’ll never want to buy bottled salad dressing again!
For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
For the Salad: