For me, persimmons and pomegranates are two treasured fruits of winter. There is only a short gap between the luscious September tomatoes I love to add to salads and the crisp, sweetly acidic persimmons I use as their cold-weather substitute. Use the squat, tomato-shaped Fuyu persimmon for this salad. The skins should be orange-red, smooth, and shiny, and the flesh should feel firm to the touch, but not rock hard. The Hachiya persimmon, with pointy-tipped bottom is not the right variety of persimmon for salads.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (from about 1 orange) fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley minced
12 cups (about 3 heads) whole butter lettuce leaves (see Cook’s Note)
1 medium firm and shiny pomegranate unblemished
3 ripe Fuyu persimmons cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the chives and parsley. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Rinse the lettuce leaves and dry them in a salad spinner or pat dry with paper towels. Place the lettuce in a large bowl, cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel, and set aside until ready to serve.
To extract the seeds from the pomegranate, I suggest you wear an apron and disposable surgical gloves because the juice stains both hands and clothing. To remove the seeds, place a bowl of cool water in the sink. Cut off the crown of the pomegranate with a stainless-steel knife (a carbon-steel knife can turn the juice bitter) and scoop out some of the center membrane, or pith, with a spoon. Use the knife to score the skin into quarters, and then cut through enough of the membrane to see the seeds. Submerge the pomegranate in the water and break apart the quarters with your thumbs. Use your fingers to peel away the white membrane and pop out the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Discard the membrane. Drain the seeds and spread them on a double thickness of paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Set aside until ready to use.
To assemble the salad, add the persimmon wedges to the bowl of lettuce. Give the dressing a last-minute shake, pour over the salad, and toss well. Divide among individual salad plates and garnish each salad with as many pomegranate seeds as desired. (Save any remaining pomegranate seeds for another use.) Serve immediately.
I like to keep the butter lettuce leaves whole for an attractive presentation. You certainly can tear them into bite-sized pieces if you prefer. If butter lettuce is unavailable, use green or red leaf lettuce or a mixture of the two. In any case, be sure the lettuce is dried well; the dressing does not adhere to wet lettuce.
The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance, covered tightly, and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving. The pomegranate can be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Place in a covered container and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.