October 29, 2009

Persimmon Salad with Hazelnuts, Prosciutto, Watercress, and Baked Goat Cheese







Persimmons are a my kitchen's mascot for Fall. Their skins reflect the color of the turning leaves and they inspire me to prepare earthy, hearty, autumnal meals.



This salad is perfect as a main for a fall lunch, or can be a shared appetizer before a dinner of grilled lamb and roasted root vegetables. Also, a generous portion could be an antipasti plate. I love the juxtaposing flavors: fresh yet roasted; sweet yet salty.

Doing a couple of things in advance can make preparation for this salad really fast and easy: I suggest soaking goat cheese overnight in olive oil; I always like having a stash of breadcrumbs in the freezer; and having a pot of watercress in the backyard is a plus.


Ingredients

2 bunches watercress
2 Fuyu persimmons
1/4 pound prosciutto slices
1 cup hazelnuts
4 rounds goat chesse, 1/2 thick
3/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs ( I used Mariposa's sandwich bread)
2 tablespoons port balsamic (or any balsamic you like)
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Clean and trim watercress and distribute around the edge of a dinner-sized plate to make a halo of greens. Repeat for 4 total plates.

Put hazelnuts in a pan on the stove top, with burner on medium/high. (I like to toast nuts on the stove so I can keep my eye on them, shake them occasionally, and keep them from burning.) After about 10-12 minutes, the hazelnuts should be nicely toasted. Spread nuts out on a dishcloth to cool. When the nuts are cool, use the cloth to rub the skins off. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Peel persimmons and slice into thin wedges. Tear each prosciutto slice into long strips, with about 1 inch width . Wrap each wedge of persimmon with a strip of prosciutto. On each plate, place 8 or so wrapped persimmons around the inside of the watercress halo.

This baked goat cheese technique is adapted from Chez Panisse and Cafe Fanny.... If you have soaked your goat cheese rounds overnight, go ahead and dredge them in breadcrumbs until covered on all sides. ( If you haven't soaked the cheese, you can lightly coat each round with olive oil to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to the cheese.) Place on a lightly greased baking pan. Put in the oven for 6-9 minutes. When done, the cheese should be warmed through and soft to the touch, but not melted. Placed one round of baked cheese in middle of each plate.

For the dressing, combine minced shallot, balsamic, olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt.

Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts and lightly drizzle vinaigrette over the top of the salad.

Serves 4 as a main, or 8 as a shared appetizer

A note to families: For picky eaters, like my own kiddos, I recommend a deconstructed version of this salad. Kids can pick and choose from the ingredients to make their own delicious concoction.

1 comment:

  1. This looks fantastic! I recently made a salad that combined proscuitto with persimmon, but I love the addition of baked goat cheese. Must try1

    ReplyDelete

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E

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