Spinach Salad with Persimmons, Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese and a Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette

by formerchef on November 22, 2010

Post image for Spinach Salad with Persimmons, Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese and a Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Every year we try to change it up somewhat when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. But there are so many “traditional” dishes that we have to make (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes…) that the options for change really only come within the green-vegetable-side-dish category. This year I thought a salad might be a nice, lighter choice to counterbalance the heavy (but oh-so-good) starches that dominate the traditional sides.

I have a persimmon tree, and this year have a surplus of fruit as those of you with fruit trees know how that happens. I thought that perhaps people would be looking for something to make with those persimmons other than the typical cookies, or even my own Persimmon Cranberry Bread. I’ve set some of my Fuyus aside in the refrigerator to keep them firm until Thanksgiving day because rather than ripe soft fruit, this salad needs to be made with the firm persimmons which can be sliced. So, you must use Fuyus, not Hachiyas (which can only be eaten when soft and ripe).

This salad makes a great dish to bring to a potluck because much of it can be prepped in advance, either early in the morning or the night before, and then assembled right before serving. I’ll be bringing this to dinner on Thanksgiving and will have everything prepped in separate containers ready to be mixed together right before we sit down to eat. 

The recipe below serves six as an appetizer but can be easily doubled or tripled for a crowd.

Persimmons, Beets, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

Spinach Salad with Persimmons, Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese and a Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette Recipe
Printable Recipe in PDF

8 oz cleaned baby spinach
1 ripe, but firm, Fuyu persimmon
8 oz fresh whole beets, roasted
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette
1/4 cup hazelnuts (1 oz weight), toasted and chopped
1/2 shallot, sliced
3 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 oz champagne or white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

If prepping in advance Steps 1 and 2 can be done the day before.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the beet/s until done. Let cool. For further instruction on how to roast beets go here.

2. After the beets are done, or at the same time if you have a big oven, toast the hazelnuts. If the nuts still have their dark skin on them this will need to be rubbed off and is easily done after toasting.

Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a sheet pan and place them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they start to turn brown. The skins on the hazelnuts will start to crack and pull off the nut and they will smell heavenly.

Allow them to cool and then place them on a clean dishtowel. Gather up the hazelnuts in the towel and rub them against each other for 10-15 seconds. This will rub off the skins. Pick out the clean hazelnuts and repeat as necessary. Not every fleck of the skins will come off, but that’s ok, just get as much as possible off.

If toasting more than the ¼ cup needed for this recipe (I did), store them in an airtight container.

Chop the hazelnuts into ¼ inch or smaller pieces for the vinaigrette.

See the photos below for examples.

Raw hazelnuts, prior to toasting.

Hazelnuts, toasted, when the skin starts to split and peel off.

Rub the hazelnuts in a dishtowel to remove the skins.

3. When the beets are done and cool, cut the stem end off, and peel. Cut the beet in half and then slice into half rounds. If doing in advance, put the sliced beets in a Tupperware or other covered container in the refrigerator so they don’t dry out.

3. Make the vinaigrette. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, sliced shallots and hazelnuts in a small bowl and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Or, shake all ingredients together in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. If you’ve never made vinaigrette before, see my tutorial on how to make a basic vinaigrette.
Note; you can make the vinaigrette the night before, but I would add the toasted hazelnuts less than an hour before you serve it because they can lose their crunch sitting too long in the vinaigrette.

4. Slice the persimmons. Cut off the stem end and then cut in half. The skin is edible so you can leave it on if you want (or cut it off with a paring knife if you prefer). Slice into half rounds.

5. Crumble the goat cheese.

6. Put the spinach in a large bowl, add the beets, persimmons, goat cheese and start by tossing with the half the vinaigrette. Add more dressing as desired.

1 jacqueline church November 22, 2010 at 7:50 am

I have the same dilemma, tweaking is only aloud at the periphery (apps, salad, dessert.) Main courses must remain. This salad looks lovely. I think I’ll do with pistachios since allergic to hazelnuts ;-(

Btw put my remaining persimmons in kickass cranberry sauce. Hey, that may be my new name. “Kickass Cranberries” me likey.

2 formerchef November 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

Oh, I like “Kickass Cranberry” too!

3 ayngelina November 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

Oh how I miss baby spinach in South America, it looks delicious!

4 Vivian November 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

I agree, you really can’t mess with tradition, but you can always add to it. Thanksgiving Dinner on Guam meant we had all the traditional dishes associated with Thanksgiving, plus all of the dishes locals usually associated with the feast. It made for a lot of cooking, but there were always many hands to do the work too.

5 formerchef November 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Thanks Vivian! I bet T-Day dinner in Guam was amazing!

6 Vivian November 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

I meant to also say that this dish looks wonderful. I see persimmons everywhere right now, and definitely want to make something like this or the wonderful bread you posted earlier 🙂

7 Tokyo Terrace November 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Great idea! I love it! We have a lot of persimmons around in Tokyo this time of year- no beets, but I could omit those, right? Thanks for the beautiful salad idea!

8 formerchef November 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Of course! I’m trying to think of what you might have there which you could substitute for color and texture, but I don’t know. Let me know what you use.

9 Ren November 25, 2010 at 2:33 am

Looks delicious.The season for ‘cachi’ is ripe in Rome now.I have an old recipe from a friend
in Tuscany of a loaf made with cachi that they used to serve for pudding with a dollop of cream
on top. I will try to make it!

10 Marisol Perry December 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tokyo Terrace, Christine and Kristina Johnson, Kristina Johnson. Kristina Johnson said: Looking for a lighter side dish for Thanksgiving? Give this easy Fall-inspired salad a try; http://twurl.nl/uryazh […]

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