Winter Salad with Persimmons & Pomegranate
serves one hungry person or two as a side
A handful of really good spinach*
A few large mustard or kale leaves
A few large escarole leaves
1 firm Fuyu persimmon
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
2-4 oz ricotta salta, cubed or crumbled
1 T high quality olive oil
juice of half a lemon
Maldon or other flakey sea salt
* If you are able, try to get your hands on hearty spinach that has textured, knobbly leaves. It is more likely to have that lovely meaty quality I mentioned than "baby" spinach or more the more delicate, thin-leafed variety.
Put the spinach in a bowl and cover with cold water. Lift the spinach out. The sand and dirt will settle in the bottom of the bowl. Rinse the bowl and repeat until all the sediment is removed from the leaves. Do the same with the other greens.
Spin or pat the greens until very dry.
Using a paring knife, remove the stems from the mustard or kale by cutting each leaf lengthwise down either side of the stem. Cut or tear the stemless leaves into fork-bite size and place in a salad bowl. Cut or tear the escarole to a similar size and add to the bowl along with the spinach.
Cut the stem off the persimmon, then halve the fruit vertically. Some Fuyu persimmons contain seeds but many are seedless and just have a pretty flower-like pattern inside. Place one half, flat side down, on a cutting board and slice thin half moons. Do the same with the other half and add to the salad bowl.
Cut the pomegranate in half, vertically. Store one half in the fridge, covered, to enjoy later. Cut your remaining half in half again, vertically. Remove the seeds from the white pith and sprinkle over the bowl of greens. One half should yield at least 1/4 cup of seeds, sometimes more.
Add your cubed or crumbled ricotta salata, the olive oil and lemon juice and toss until salad is evenly coated. Add a good pinch of sea salt and a crack of black pepper and gently toss again. Enjoy as a light, vitamin-rich meal, a first course, or a fresh Thanksgiving side.
Other Fun Facts
Spinach is one of the best greens you can eat. It is very high in iron, clorophyll and vitamin A. It promotes peristalsis (the involuntary wave-like movement of the muscles in your digestive tract that moves your food through your system), soothes intestinal inflammation, is a great detoxifier and can help restore pH balance to your digestive system.
Pomegranate is another cleansing and cooling food which can be great in a season marked by celebratory and, often, heavy eating. Along with cranberries it is known to promote a healthy bladder and urinary tract. The astringent rind is said to make a good skin wash.
Escarole, cousin of endive, is high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as calcium, iron and magnesium.
Mustard Greens are incredibly high in water content making them a great detoxifying, tonic food. They belong to the Brassica family which is widely considered to be one of the most powerful anti-cancerous groups of vegetables.