Watermelon Salad


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It’s great to be back in the pages of Gaston Alive! I love the new format – – it gives me so much more room.

My favorite seasons are fall and spring, but summer’s not over just yet. There’s still time to enjoy the fruits and the flavors of this season’s harvest. To me, watermelon says summer like nothing else.

As a kid, I remember eating big slices with juice running down my chin and being covered practically ear to ear in sticky red water, happily spitting seeds. My brothers told me if I swallowed them, they would sprout inside me.

If you are looking for a fresh dish to take to a party, or just a great weekend grilling compliment, give this watermelon salad a try.

Let’s start with the straight forward version and then look at a few options you can use to make it your own.

Watermelon Salad picturesINGREDIENTS:
• 1 lb seedless watermelon
• 1 Bunch Fresh mint
• ¼ lb Feta cheese
• ¼ Red Onion
• 2 Tbs Agave
• ¼ cup White balsamic or white wine vinegar
• 1 Lemon
• 1/2 cup Olive Oil, EVOO may be too green for this
• Mixed baby greens
• Salt and Pepper

Begin with the dressing so it has time to meld. First, zest the 1/2 the lemon then squeeze it into a 2 quart mixing bowl. I find citrus easier to zest if it’s cold but then warm it some to get the most juice out of it. Next add the agave, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, but I use about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Whisk until well mixed then drizzle in the oil while whisking to emulsify. (If you don’t like to whisk you can use your blender and pour a thin stream into the oil on a medium speed).

Watermelon Salad picture 2The dressing should be very light and slightly acidic from the vinegar to offset the sweet of the melon.

After you are done with the dressing, slice the melon into 1 ½ in slices then brush both sides with some oil and grill it till you get some nice marks on each side. Cut the melon into cubes, save the rind if you want to make some great pickles. Try to save the juice as you cut the melon to add into the dressing. The grilling adds a nice smoky dimension to the salad.

TIP:  Place the cutting board in a jellyroll pan and all the juice running from the board will be caught and easily poured into a container.

Shave the red onion into very thin slices (make them as thin as you possibly can). Chiffonade [click here to learn how to chiffonade] the mint leaves and gently mix everything.

Add the captured watermelon juice to the dressing and whisk, toss the greens with the dressing, plate it, gently placing the watermelon mixture over the greens, then crumble feta over the top. If desired garnish with the tiny top leaves of the mint.

Some variations to try; don’t grill the melon, substitute fennel or shallot for the red onion, use basil instead of mint (it’s part of the mint family), replace the agave with honey, change the oil to be almond, sunflower or coconut, all of these are opportunities to customize this or vary it so you don’t feel like you are serving the same dish again and again.

Till next month, make it your own!
– Glenn (@cookwithglenn)