As a self-imposed rule, I ignore Christmas until December is upon us. Except this year, I am going to embrace the early Christmas cheer because life is just too short and Christmas time is magical – and no way am I going to burn out before December 24! Ya know. There is always a chance one might get tired of all the festivities before the main event but I’m willing to take that risk this year.
Even so, all I’m bringing you this week is a seasonal fall/winter, not overly Christmas-y salad with some of my favorite fruit and fresh dandelion greens. I wish I could say I picked them myself but I found an organic batch in the store so, convenience wins!
Growing organic dandelions must be a walk in the park (I mean, I know it is because I have grown them before but never thought about making it into a business. How clever). Dandelions don’t seem to have any real predators other than some bunny rabbits or avid gardeners who will never win the fight, let’s be real. I, myself, have silently cursed a stubborn, indestructible batch in my drive that just won’t quit, no matter how many times I rip them out.
Either way, if you can’t find super nutritious, tasty dandelion greens, arugula will be just perfect for this salad – in fact, I mixed in some baby arugula leafs for variety. Any darker greens that you enjoy will work beautifully in this recipe!
While we’re talking produce, I have discovered my love for persimmons. It’s a fruit I have ignored for several decades because I was never sure what to make of it; it looks like a tomato but eats like an apple. Persiommons can be very firm and astringent or mushy-sweet and since I never got the hang of how to judge a good persimmon (given the different varieties), I just ignored them. Until last week, that is. I happened upon a lady in the store who picked out a few that she thought were in perfect condition (they were!) and now I’m hooked! Can’t get enough! It’s persimmons-everything (you’ll see).
On the persimmons-note, I have also largely avoided cinnamon spiced sweet potatoes. It just never sounded like a good idea to me. When I first moved to the US, I vaguely remember trying a sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving and I – what’s a nice way of saying “hated it”. Fast forward to now, I just recently tried oven-roasted cinnamon spiced sweet potatoes and I was amazed at how scrumptious they were (minus the added sugar and all). I always assumed the cinnamon would bring out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes even more but I must say, that’s not the case. Also, they make your house smell heavenly. Mmmmm. Christmas, here I come!!
Persimmon + Pomegranate Salad with Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Prep time: 30 minutes
1 small sweet potato (about ¼lb)
1/4 cup + ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 handful (about 4 oz) dark leafy greens (I used dandelion greens and baby arugula)
1 persimmon, sliced
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
3-4 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
1/4 cup raw pistachios, chopped
Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and cube sweet potato (about 1-inch cubes), add to a bowl and toss with ½ tablespoon oil, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Next, wash and drain the leafy greens, wash and thinly slice persimmon, deseed the pomegranate, crumble the feta cheese (if in one piece) and combine these ingredients in a large salad bowl.
For the vinaigrette, mix the remaining oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest in a jar, season to taste with salt and pepper, shake until smooth and drizzle over the salad and toss gently.
Lastly, add sweet potatoes and sprinkle with pistachios and serve immediately.
You can toast the pistachios for about 5 minutes in a frying pan over medium heat for extra-flavor but they also taste great raw.