On my most recent visit to San Francisco, I ate a symphony of persimmons. At Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’ famed shrine to local food in Berkeley, the bright-orange fruit was shaved paper-thin over salads, pureed with sugar, eggs, and cream to make the perfect persimmon pudding, and served whole in a copper bowl to be easily plucked for a fresh and delicious dessert. At Hardwater, a Bourbon bar opened by chef Charles Phan of The Slanted Door fame, I ate crispy Brussels sprouts coated with a persimmon and mustard jam. While at Greens Restaurant, a wonderful vegetarian eatery started by Jewish chef and now cookbook author Deborah Madison, I ate the best quinoa salad I have ever tasted, served with—you got it—persimmons.
Although this fruit of a gorgeous ivory flower is Asian in origin, the ninth-largest producer today is Israel, where persimmon trees grow in the Sharon Plain just north of Tel Aviv. Marketed as the “Sharon fruit,” this Israeli-bred cultivar has no core, is seedless, is particularly sweet, and can be eaten whole just like an apple. I find persimmons in Washington, D.C., at my favorite Asian supermarket, where people take them home by the case during the winter holiday season.
This quinoa dish is a fitting recipe for Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees—in 2017, it starts the evening of Feb. 10—but is equally satisfying at any time throughout the year. This delicious salad is a global fusion of ingredients, combining the Andean grain with the Asian persimmon, once called “God’s pear” or “divine fruit.” Feel free to use your imagination and creativity to make this salad your own if you can’t find some of the ingredients.
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