Kale, Fuyu Persimmon, Pomegranate and Roasted Squash Salad

After living in Switzerland for almost six years, we decided it was time to phase out our time living abroad and settle someplace in the U.S.  Criteria included living near a major airport, great medical facilities (yes, we are getting older so this is important), access to a good-sized city, mountains, nearby hiking trails, terrific weather, cows, neighborhood Mexican restaurants, unlimited access to seafood and a bevy of local food and wine producers.  Well, northern California fit the bill so we narrowed our search and are now happy homeowners, despite the wildfire and earthquake risks.  Relatives in Petaluma have already taken us to several dairies and a vineyard.  My weekly joy is visiting the fantastic farmers markets in town.  Every week local farmers and producers pile their stands high with whatever is in season.

After eating a terrific kale, apple, persimmon salad tossed with a pear chardonnay vinegar and olive oil dressing at my sister-in-law’s house, I was inspired to create my own fall salad using whatever the local farmers had on offer at the market.  Booths were piled high with kale, winter squash, pomegranates and persimmons.  The later I already had on hand, having received some at my sister-in-law’s house fresh from the tree.  I thought a salad made with these offerings topped with toasted pumpkin seeds (also from the market), crumbled feta and drizzled with a vinaigrette made with locally-produced olive oil, pomegranate molasses and sumac powder (more on these ingredients below) would be terrific. I am thrilled with how it turned out.

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A note on persimmons.  The two main varieties include fuyu (the one used in this salad) and hachiya. Fuyu are tomato-shaped and firm (see photo below).  They are typically sliced like an apple.  I adore these but am also a fan of hachiya since we had a tree bearing these in our yard in Tokyo, Japan. Hachiya are elongated and best eaten soft.  Here is a link to a more complete description of fuyu and hachiya.

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Always, always in my oil and vinegar cabinet is a bottle of pomegranate molasses.  A staple in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern kitchens, this viscous liquid (a concentration of pomegranate juice and sugar) is honey-thick and simultaneously sweet and very, very lip-pursingly tart.  Readily available on-line and in many ethnic shops and some grocery stores, I never had a problem finding it in Zurich, Switzerland or in California.  It is also very easy to make.  Many recipes are on-line such as Alton Brown’s recipe on the Food Network website.

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An optional addition to the dressing (and always in my spice cabinet) is sumac.  Often found in Middle Eastern cuisine, this dried, ground berry of the sumac bush imparts a tart, lemony flavor.  I most often use it sprinkled on fish before grilling or tossing with vegetables and olive oil before roasting.  Readily available a ethnic shops selling pomegranate molasses and on-line.

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Preparation is simple, once ingredients are gathered.  A printable recipe is at the bottom of this post.

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Choose a winter squash (such as acorn or butternut – not spaghetti).  Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and membrane.  Peel, if necessary.

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Cut into bite-size pieces.

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Toss with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the pieces.  Place on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt. Bake in a pre-heated 425° F / 220° C oven until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Stir once or twice during baking.

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While the squash is baking, slice the stem end off of the fuyu persimmons.  Peel, if necessary.  Thinly slice crosswise then cut into batons or wedges.

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POM juice producers have an amusing video showing how to de-seed a pomegranate in six steps.  I do not do it this way since I want to reserve  juices for the salad dressing.  My method is messier.  If you are just after the seeds, follow the steps in the video.  Otherwise, cut the pomegranate in half.

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Place a large bowl in the sink to prevent juice from splattering on the counter. Hold one half, cut side down, in the palm of your hand and start whacking it with a wooden spoon. Drop released seeds into the bowl, removing any attached membrane. Keep whacking and slightly squeezing the half until all of the seeds have dropped out. Repeat.  Strain seeds and reserve the juice.

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Cut leafy parts away from the kale stem then chop into bite-size pieces. Alternately, tear leafy parts into bite-size pieces.

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To make the dressing, whisk together pomegranate molasses, sumac (if using) and some of the reserved pomegranate juice.

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Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking the entire time.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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Prepare to assemble the salad by crumbling the feta cheese.

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Place kale on a large platter or individual plates. Top with warm or room temperature roasted squash. Sprinkle fuyu persimmons, pomegranate seeds, feta and pumpkin seeds on top. Drizzle with the dressing.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Kale, Fuyu Persimmon, Pomegranate, Roasted Squash Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
 
Ingredients
  • Salad:
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 fuyu persimmons (not hachiya)
  • 1 winter squash (such as acorn or butternut – not spaghetti)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil to coat squash pieces
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds (salted or unsalted)
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons or less pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and membrane.
  2. Peel, if necessary.
  3. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  4. Toss with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the pieces.
  5. Place on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated 425° F / 220° C oven until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Stir once or twice during baking.
  7. Cut pomegranate in half.
  8. Place a large bowl in the sink to prevent juice from splattering on the counter. Hold one half, cut side down, in the palm of your hand and start whacking it with a wooden spoon. Drop released seeds into the bowl, removing any attached membrane. Keep whacking and slightly squeezing the half until all of the seeds have dropped out. Repeat.
  9. Strain seeds and reserve the juice.
  10. Cut the stem end off of the fuyu persimmon. (Fuyu are shaped like tomatoes and are firm, hachiya are mushy.)
  11. Peel, if desired.
  12. Thinly slice then cut into thick matchsticks or thin wedges.
  13. Cut leafy parts away from the kale stem then chop into bite-size pieces. Alternately, tear leafy parts into bite-size pieces.
  14. To assemble the salad:
  15. Place kale on a serving platter or on individual plates. Top with warm or room temperature squash, fuyu persimmons, pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta cheese and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the dressing.
  16. To make the dressing:
  17. Put pomegranate molasses, sumac (if using) and up to 2 tablespoons of reserved pomegranate juice in a bowl.
  18. Whisk until combined.
  19. Continue whisking and drizzle in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  20. * If pomegranate molasses is not available:
  21. Place 4 cups pomegranate juice, ½ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a saucepan.
  22. Bring to a boil.
  23. Reduce heat and simmer about one hour, uncovered, until it reduces to 1 cup. It should be the consistency of honey.
  24. Store excess in the refrigerator.
  25. (If only 2 tablespoons are desired, use ½ cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.)
  26. Alternately, just reduce pomegranate juice until it reaches the consistency of honey.

 

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Comments

  1. Amy, I did everything exactly as the recipe was written and it was easy to make and absolutely delicious, Thanks …. perfect salad recipe for fall season!. I made for a potluck with friends and it got rave reviews (: so I will be making it again this Sunday for our team tennis party and would love to share details of your website with friends! Thanks, Meera

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