In Summer Cooking, Elizabeth David says that ‘cold stewed plums must be one of the dullest dishes on earth. Accompanied by custard it is one of the most depressing’.
I don’t mind a cold stewed plum myself (and cold proper custard is heavenly). What I find depressing is biting into a purple-skinned plum and discovering that its flesh is golden and mushy. In my opinion, a good plum – stewed or not – is a confounding blend of sweet and sour, with firm, juicy flesh in shades of pale pink, bright crimson or cardinal red.
If you’re a plum-lover – or have a tree and can’t keep up with eating them – here’s a salad we’ve been enjoying a lot in the last couple of weeks.
Plum, pomegranate and pumpkin seed salad
This is the sort of thing you can throw together very easily and people think you’re some kind of salad savant. You can add and subtract ingredients as suits your palate and pantry: some soft cheese might be good, or olives, or even some cooked quinoa (yes, really, though you might want to add a bit more dressing).
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp caster sugar
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2-3 red-fleshed plums, cut into slim wedges
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry pan until golden
For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste with a pinch of flaky sea salt
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Put the onions, salt, sugar and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Stir to combine, then cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes (longer is fine, though put in the fridge if it’s going to be more than an hour).
When the onions have steeped and you’re nearly ready to eat, put the spinach leaves and plums in a salad bowl. Drain the vinegar from the onions into a small jar. Add the crushed garlic and pomegranate molasses. Shake to mix, then add the olive oil. Shake again until emulsified.
Add the onions to the bowl and drizzle over 3-4 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss gently, then scatter over the pumpkin seeds. Toss again and serve. Serves 3-4.