This takes a bowl of fresh green leaves and herbs a step further. Persimmons add a juicy sweetness which counters the bitterness of walnuts, herbs and greens, making a nicely balanced salad. Try this salad alongside roast chicken or pork dishes.
8-10 cups picked over salad leaves and herbs (just a really big bowl full of green stuff!), see Recipe Notes 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot 1 Tbsp white or red wine vinegar ½ tsp salt ½ tsp honey (soften it in a ramekin set in a bowl of hot water) Freshly ground black pepper to taste Optional extras: crushed garlic, finely grated lemon zest, mustard 1-2 non-astringent persimmons, peeled and cut into slimish wedges ¼ cup fresh walnuts (if cracking your own nuts, start with about 8)
1 Pick over the salad greens and herbs, wash and spin dry. If you are preparing the greens ahead, transfer to plastic bags lined with paper towels, but don’t seal the bags, and position the bags in the fridge with the paper towels underneath the greens to capture moisture. When ready to put the salad together, transfer salad greens to a large bowl (chilling the bowl first will help keep everything perky).
2 Add persimmon and walnuts. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour dressing over salad greens and toss gently but thoroughly. Serve immediately.
Choose a selection of fresh herbs and salad leaves using regular salad leaves for the base. Add interest with tangier and more bitter-tasting greens. Choose from buttercrunch, cos (romaine) or red and green oak lettuce, iceberg, radicchio, witlof (chicory), baby spinach, rocket (arugula), sorrel and small beetroot leaves. Add plenty of fresh herbs, choosing from coriander (cilantro) and parsley sprigs, fennel fronds, mint leaves, snipped chives, a smattering of thyme or marjoram leaves (in summer add basil). And anything else that is green and edible (no, not caterpillars!).
A salad spinner does a mighty fine job of spinning out the water without bruising leaves or herbs but if you don’t have one, bundle up the greens in a clean cotton tea towel and gently spin to release water then transfer to a large plastic bag lined with paper towels and refrigerate greens for 30 minutes.
Non-astringent persimmons (astringent persimmons are the old-fashioned variety that tasted terrible until they softened into a gorgeous apricot-coloured jelly inside) are ripe when the skin changes from coral to deep orange. Persimmon will keep several days at room temperature, or for a few days refrigerated once they have turned orange.