Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint

Article first published as Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint on Blogcritics.

I know.  You might be thinking, what the heck?  Why would you pair sweet, delicious, juicy watermelon with a cheese that smells like old feet? Trust me on this one – it’s divine.  The salty, briny feta cheese amplifies the sweetness in the melon, and makes for a perfect combination.  I pump up the brininess in this recipe with some kalamata olives, and balance it out with some mint and basil and a few red onions for texture.  It is an all time favorite side dish for my husband and frequent guests.  It pairs beautifully with grilled steak, shrimp, seared scallops, or roasted halibut, and with some grilled corn on the cob and a glass of cool Riesling, it’s like summer on your table.  You probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry and/or garden, and melons are fabulously juice, sugary, and omnipresent at farmers’ markets this time of year.  Try it tonight – you’ll be glad you did!

About 6 cups of watermelon, cubed into 1” squares
¼ red onion, sliced as thin as possible
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh arugula, rough chopped
¾ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 oz. feta cheese, sliced into 1 inch by ¼ inch rectangles
1 Tbsp Good quality Olive Oil
Juice and Zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp White Balsamic (or rice wine) vinegar
Dash of Tabasco
Sea Salt and Fresh ground pepper to taste

Chop the watermelon, olives, feta, arugula, and herbs and mix together lightly.  Whisk up the remaining ingredients in a small bowl for the dressing and set aside.  Dress this dish just before serving and lightly toss, as the dressing will start to break down the melon fairly quickly.
You can omit the arugula if you like; it will make less volume, but still taste great.  I always have it on hand and I love the pepperiness it brings to the salad, and the color.  I’ve also added yellow cherry tomatoes (the Sungold variety) to this salad and it makes for a gorgeous rainbow of colors and adds some nice subtle acidity.  If your melon is not as sweet as you’d like, you can add 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar in the raw to your dressing too.  Go ahead and experiment – you really can’t mess this one up!

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