Before I had done any research on cooking with this fruit, I succumbed to the siren song of persimmons. I had never tasted one before but discovered that I loved it’s subtle sweetness and low acidy. The flesh is similar to a nectarine and the skin is thin but does peel easily. The best part of this sandwich, besides the flavor, is discovering a new food. I’ve seen lots of recipes involving persimmon in desserts and when I brought this fruit home, I really had no clue what my intention was going to be. With busy work weeks this past month, my goal was to keep things simple. This sandwich has great flavors for a meal done on the quick (assuming you can stock up on some of these items beforehand.)
Because the basil pesto doesn’t have garlic in its base, the dressing doesn’t overpower this sandwich. And unlike a sweeter and bolder combination, such as figs or apples with pork, persimmon’s more delicate fruitiness blends well with the smoked ham. While the cheese is optional (I didn’t have goat gouda the first time I made it) it just adds that much more flavor. By the way, if you’ve never tried goat gouda before, get yourself to a cheese store (I got mine at Whole Foods); it is a great melting cheese and super lovely served as part of a cheese course with pears and a white wine.
persimmon ham sandwich
makes 2 sandwiches
1/4 onion, cut thinly
2 tbsp basil pesto
6-8 thin slices of smoked ham
4-8 slices of goat gouda
1 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp yuzu juice (optional)
1/2 tbsp of champagne vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
1 tbsp of walnut oil
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts for a few seconds, then add basil, walnut oil and salt and process for a minute or two.
Depending on the ripeness of the persimmon and your patience for eating it, you might discover that your little orange buddy has a slightly starchy aftertaste, similar to what you might experience with raw spinach leaves. If you do find this too disconcerting to ignore, I suggest adding this next step to your sandwich:
To alleviate some of the starchiness from a persimmon that hasn’t developed its full sweetness, slice it and soak the cut fruit in yuzu juice and vinegar and let sit for 2-5 minutes while you prepare the rest of the sandwich. The yuzu juice has a strong flavor on its own. Added to the persimmon, it lends a subtle citrus flavor to the sandwich, balancing the sweetness of the ham.
While the persimmon slices are soaking, cook the onions until they just begin to caramelize. Smother each half of the sandwich with the basil pesto, layer some of the onions on one of the halves and the persimmon slices on the other half. Place 3-4 slices of ham and goat gouda in the middle. I don’t have a panini press (I’m of the Alton Brown school of no uni-taskers) so I used a teapot filled with water as the weight, but maybe you have a brick lying around to get the sandwich pressed and heated, go ahead and use that instead.
This sandwich is delicious with a side of sweet potato fries and a glass of Prosecco.
For another hearty sandwich, check out this wonderful recipe a friend of mine created and which gave inspiration to my own version as a substantial, hearty meal during the week.
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