persimmon 

When I first encountered the persimmon fruit some ten years ago, it was completely foreign to me. What was this strange fruit that looked like a brown tomato with a hint of apple? What was this old timey traditional dessert of persimmon pudding or pie that the older generations seemed so familiar with? I just didn’t get it, and preferred to stick to the vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and mashed sweet potatoes. But now, at age 28, living in southern California of all places, I finally get the persimmon mystery.

For growing outside of my 8-unit apartment complex here in sunny Silverlake, right outside my door in fact, is a towering persimmon tree.

It’s late September here, and this stinky tree (some persimmons have been known to smell rancid like the infamous gingko biloba tree; mine is one of those) is busting with persimmons. The tree will stay full of these tomato-like bulbous fruits until around December, when the tree goes back to looking gangly, barren and completely unsuspecting.

Until then, it’s time to take advantage. As I’ve learned, persimmons are indeed a fruit to get excited about. They not only come into season for a short time each year, they’re also barely available at any market… so if you have the chance to forage them locally, do so. They are a special treat.

Depending on what type of persimmon you’ve got, your fruit may either be eaten fresh from the branch (the “Fuyu” variety) or may need to be cooked to soften its tart flavor (the “Hachiya” variety). I’ve got the former in my complex, so once they are burnt orange colored and hanging low with ripeness, I’ll shake the branches, gather the fruits and have a ball with them.

Either way, whichever persimmons you’ve got this season, here’s one of my fave ways to prepare them. Taking a nod from the more familiar prosciutto-wrapped dates, I’ve done the same with persimmons. They’re cut into wedges, wrapped in prosciutto and roasted until soft and caramelized. Finished off with a simple sauce (tasting like pure sweet autumn), it’s a no-brainer recipe. Enjoy with a glass of dry red wine, or, if you’re like me, any old beer.

Prosciutto Persimmons with Sweet Autumn Drizzle

(Makes 16 wrapped wedges)

Ingredients

8 slices thinly sliced prosciutto (about 4 ounces)

2 medium persimmons, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Gently tear each slice of prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap 1 half around each persimmon wedge, tucking the ends under. Repeat with remaining prosciutto and persimmon wedges. Brush lightly with oil. Arrange wedges evenly on prepared baking sheet; roast until softened and just caramelized, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Whisk together honey, lemon juice, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a small bowl.
  4. To serve, arrange persimmon wedges on a serving plate. Drizzle sauce over and enjoy warm.

Image: eightysixx