Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Lotus Eaters

No, the title of this post is not referring to the ancient Greek mythological human race from Homer’s Odyssey named Lotus-eaters, but to S and me. (Lotos is the Greek name for persimmon).

Since the beginning of autumn, when persimmons made their appearance at the markets, bagfuls of the orange-hued, plump fruit came into my kitchen weekly, to say the least.

We love eating fruits; in salads, desserts, savory dishes of all kinds, and throughout this autumn season our meals have been filled with dishes bejeweled with seasonal fruits.

As with several other fruits and vegetables, I first tasted persimmons when I moved to the Netherlands six years ago. I have no memory of eating them while in Greece, and when I finally tasted the shiny fruit, I was immediately addicted to its unique flavor.

Persimmons are an unexpectedly succulent, full-flavored and sweet fruit with a smooth flesh. With or without their glossy skin, they are best eaten when they are fully ripe and juicy. Eaten raw for breakfast, in salads or even roasted, they are simply wonderful.

I prefer to have them when they very soft and squidgy, cutting them in half and scooping out their flesh with a spoon, or eating them just as they are, skins and all, like an apple. In salads, I like them thinly sliced, skin on, and when I use them in cakes or desserts I tend to use their pulp.

In this salad, the persimmon is particularly interesting as its sweet taste and soft texture pairs uniquely well with the liquoricy fennel, the crisp peppery rocket, the salty and meaty prosciutto, and the rounded sharpness of the white balsamic vinaigrette.

It is always worth trying new flavors.
Small or great pleasures, as with everything worthwhile in life, don’t come to you unless you seek them.

Persimmon Salad with Prosciutto, Fennel and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

I used my trusted mandoline to slice the persimmons and fennel thinly, but a good sharp knife will do the trick as well.

If you don’t have white balsamic vinegar, substitute with dark balsamic vinegar. The flavor is almost the same, the difference lies in the color and consistency. The dark balsamic is, well, darker, and more syrupy. I didn’t use dark balsamic for aesthetic reasons mainly, as I wanted the colors of the salad to stand out and not be covered by the dark-colored, viscous vinegar.

Yield: 4 salad servings


for the vinaigrette
3 Tbsp olive oil
1½ Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Pinch of caster sugar
Freshly ground white pepper

for the salad
1 large and ripe (but firm) persimmon
1 small fennel bulb with its fronds
70-75 g rocket leaves
6 slices of prosciutto, teared in half

Special equipment: mandoline (optional)


make the vinaigrette
In a small bowl, add the olive oil, the vinegar and the sugar. Mix well with a fork or small whisk. Add some salt and pepper and give the vinaigrette a taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

make the salad
Rinse the persimmon and thinly slice it using a mandoline or a sharp knife.
Rinse the fennel bulb, remove the fronds and keep them. Slice the fennel bulb using a mandoline or a sharp knife.
Rinse the rocket, drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Mix half of the vinaigrette with the rocket in a bowl and transfer it to the salad plate you’re going to serve the salad in.
Add the sliced persimmons and fennel as well as the teared prosciutto on top, arranging the salad as shown in the photographs or in the manner you wish to present it.
Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and garnish with the fennel fronds. Drizzle with more vinaigrette if needed.
Serve immediately.


  1. I simply adore persimmons (lotus), both Hachiya and Fuyu, and lately I seem not to be able to get enough of them. Your salad looks perfectly balanced and so attractively presented, as usual.

    1. Hi Denise. In the Netherlands I mostly see the ones that you call Hachiya and that's what I've used here. Do try the salad, I think you'll like it :)

  2. Love persimmon! Are they also referred to as khaki fruit? Same thing?
    Great combo of flavours - my mouth is watering.
    Congrats on the 4 year milestone; a bit late but not less straight from the heart: your blog is one of my favourites ever, across food and non-food categories.

  3. Oh my goodness, this salad looks so elegant and delicious. I love your pairing of persimmon, fennel, and white balsamic. This is a must try! I usually pass up persimmon in the market simply because it's not so common in the US so I haven't worked with it much. But it's abundant here so thank you for the encouragement to try it!

  4. Magda, soft and hard persimmons are different kinds of persimmon :)
    Here in Portugal we have both and I actually love both types. Th soft ones I normally scoop into a bowl and mix with a punch of cinnamon - absolutely divine - or use them for cakes. The apple persimmons are mostly eaten in salads - together with beet, arugula, pomegranate and goat cheese they are perfect!

  5. madelief — yes, they are being sold here as kaki. Thank you for your kind words, you're very sweet :)

    Katie — it is definitely worth a try. Especially in this salad, it's delicious!

    Ondina Maria — here I have seen only one kind. They are not super hard nor super soft. When they ripen though they become squidgy but when they are firm they are still sweet. So, perhaps it's a different kind than the ones you have. Anyway, all persimmons are scrumptious. Use the ones you can find. Great salad idea, by the way.

    1. Magda - I made the salad last night and loved it! I added in creamy avocado in place of the prosciutto. this salad was so clean and fresh, a perfect way to brighten a winter meal.

    2. Hi Katie. I'm thrilled you liked the salad. The addition of avocado sounds good!