Conjured from the bounty of ripe Fuyu Persimmon in the shadows of my neighbor’s backyard, this marinara sauce recipe is filled with a delicate fruity flavor that other sauces only dream of having.
What to Do with Old Persimmons?
My new favorite way to use soft and squishy persimmons is in tomato sauce. Simply purée and toss them into a storebought or homemade pasta sauce! Sounds weird, I know, but if you like pumpkin marinara, then you’ll like it with persimmon. I’ve only tried this recipe with fuyu persimmons because they aren’t very sweet. You could try it with Hachiya but I’d add more acid to balance out its sweetness.
Persimmons in…Pasta Sauce!?
They’re related to tomatoes, aren’t they? If not, persimmons sure do look like ’em, which is why they ended up in this pasta sauce recipe.
My neighbor has a Fuyu Persimmon tree in her backyard and gave me a basketful to experiment with (ooo, goodie 😁🙏). When firm, Fuyu Persimmons aren’t that sweet. Their taste reminds me of the bland, tough cantaloupe you get in fruit cups at dining halls (so yeah, they need a lot of TLC). I found tossing them with acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, really helps. They were great in arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I even used them in place of tomatoes for salsa.
But once persimmons soften to an almost jelly-like consistency, it’s time for a different approach. At this point in a persimmon’s life cycle, you purée it and freeze it until you figure out what the heck to do with it. Luckily, I figured it out for you 😏👉✨
Persimmons hide in tomato sauce like a pumpkin purée would. They lend subtle sweetness, orange flare, not to mention novelty. It’s something you should absolutely try if your persimmon decor starts to get old or you’re looking for something new and unusual to try.
I like how my sister describes it, “Sounds bougie, but in a good way.”
- Rich and luscious. This sauce clings to pasta like it’s holding on to dear life, which it should because it’s about to be devoured.
- Great, Easy Use for Fuyu Persimmons. Hachiya persimmons are sweet, making them perfect for desserts. Fuyu persimmons, on the other hand, are quite mild, making them…uninspiring to cook with. But in this recipe, they find a home in the most unlikely place.
- More Acid. Try not to use sweet balsamic vinegar. The persimmon and bell peppers are sweet enough. Lemon, apple cider vinegar, or white wine are all fine options if you don’t have balsamic.
- More Liquid. When I stored the marinara sauce in the fridge, it came out kinda solidified the next day. I’m not sure if it was a weird side effect of the persimmon or that I didn’t add enough liquid. But I’m going with the latter. So add some water or stock, more milk, or heavy cream. You want it to be pourable. If you’re using it right away, however, just add some pasta water.
- Use Fire-roasted or San Marzano Tomatoes. They’ll take it to the next level of delicious.
- Creamy Pumpkin Marinara by Cookie and Kate. I made this once with some leftover canned pumpkin purée and LOVED it. So naturally, I Frankensteined my recipe with her recipe (thanks, Kate!).
More Adventures with Persimmon
Persimmon Marinara Sauce
MAKES: 3 cups⎪ DIFFICULTY: Easy⎪ FUNK: Moderate
Mise en Place
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 can (15 ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted is AWESOME!)
¾ cup Fuyu persimmon purée from about 2 persimmons
½ cup heavy cream or half & half
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
COOKS NOTE to make persimmon purée, peel and dice a ripe persimmon. Remove seeds, if any. Place in a food processor or blender and purée.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic, thyme, and cinnamon; cook until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and persimmon purée. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Add the heavy cream, butter, and balsamic vinegar; blend until smooth and creamy with a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir to combine.
3. SERVE & STORE
Toss the persimmon marinara sauce with warm pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and top with chopped parsley. Or, use it in other classic Italian recipes like chicken parm, lasagna, or ravioli.
Store any leftover marinara sauce in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 3-4 months. You can also can it and give it away to friends and family (they’ll think it’s “interesting” but they’ll actually love it once they try it).
Funk and Heat: Omit the persimmon purée. Add 1 tablespoon Doubanjiang, or more to taste.
Veganized: Omit the butter and use olive oil. Or use your preferred brand of vegan butter.
Did you make Persimmon Marinara Sauce? Let me know how it turned out and leave a comment below!