I could be a living stereotype of someone who just moved to the hot, dry, beautiful desert of Southern California, because now all I want to eat is strong-tasting ingredients. I want everything to be a little spicy (fighting fire with fire), bright with all the citrus, and yes, I usually eat light dishes: pickled salads, grilled stuff, and tacos.
I just temporarily relocated from San Francisco, where I have had what now feels like the luxury of a cooler climate. There it makes perfect sense to have hot coffee and pho for breakfast, or pasta many nights a week. Those eating habits seem like a world away. Here, the heat is truly irresistible, but it has prompted me to prepare some dishes that are quick, fun, easy and, yes, refreshing, despite the spiciness.
These days, I mostly draw inspiration from my weekly social: Joshua Tree Farmers Market. In the photo: peppers, citrus and dates. And recently persimmons have appeared. I immediately thought of salad, but then I remembered that this fruit is also very good grilled or in a pan, hot and fast.
It is important to get super firm Fuyu persimmons for this. The idea is that you caramelize the surfaces, so that they have an extra persimmon flavor, reminiscent of ripe apricot. If you start with soft persimmons, you will end up with a mush. (Avoid Hachiya persimmons for this recipe. When they are firm, they are inedible and astringent, as if a mouth full of hair is closing in on itself. Hachiya should be eaten when very ripe and creamy smooth. sweet confectioner).
The dressing here is like a vinaigrette, but instead of vinegar I use lime juice, which adds a bright musky note to the sweet persimmon and green broccoli. The peppers in the dressing are pounded into a chili paste that is quickly marinated in lime juice with olive oil. You’ll end up with about twice the seasoning you need. It’s OK – It keeps well in the fridge and would be great with grilled chicken or pork. —Christian Reynoso