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Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad


Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

I woke up on Saturday morning realizing August was just 2 weeks away. Woah, woah, woah, hold the phone! But by all means, don’t hold the melon.

It wasn’t until I then realized I had went this far into the summer without buying my first full watermelon that the panic set in. That’s like living in the city without a bike — practically a crime, at least in my world.

I love watermelon, and how I let this much of summer slip by without eating a full half to myself is beyond me. Summers are made for meals of watermelon, right?

So of course, Saturday morning, straight to the market I went. And breakfast become none other than a huge slice of sweet, juicy summer. My favorite.

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

It’s a miracle that the other half of the melon ended up in this salad. Like a just-picked heirloom tomato, or a perfectly ripe avocado, there are some things in life that I often feel, “Why bother doing anything more than adding a fork.” Although it goes without saying, a little bit of salt can entirely enhance those first two items, and it appears a little bit of feta and basil can do the same for watermelon. Sliced watermelon is great, but so is this melon salad.

On Sunday, I also happened to be heading to a friend’s b-day brunch, so the opportunity to make something special couldn’t be passed up. If you’re a food blogger, sliced watermelon isn’t all that great when fun, food-related occasions arise. Although, the few slices you’re munching on while cooking — those speak of excellence.

Needless to say, this was a hit and a totally worthy use of an impressively ripe and ready melon. Salty feta plays off the sweetness of the melon, while a minty basil takes its natural refreshingness to a whole other level. If you want your watermelon to feel fancy, in an effortless sort of way, this is it. I’m already ready for brunch, round 2, and of course, watermelon round 2, too.

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Minty Watermelon and Lime Salad

Nothing says summer like watermelon —big, juicy slices of it, its sweet nectar running down your hands and face. My favorite way to eat watermelon is to hack a huge section off and dive right in.

However, when it comes to summer gatherings, I’ve had one too many sticky, pink dribbles fall from my hands to my dress. I’m generally a hands-on person, but in these situations, I actually start to long for a fork and bowl style of eating. Picnics provide the perfect excuse to do some simple sprucing up of watermelon and turn it into a refreshing side dish meant for silverware.

Mint too is great for gatherings because everyone likes a fresh breath, and when the temps. start soaring, there’s no better cool-down ingredient for this than mint. The perfect compliment to sugary watermelon, the touch of green adds just the right finish for a hot summer day. I also hit this dish with a dash of spice and a touch of salt, a combination that goes well with the natural sweetness of my favorite summer fruit.

With just 5 ingredients and 2 easy steps, this is a dish worthy of sending watermelon into cubes meant for a fork. Serve alongside fish tacos, BBQ, or any other outdoor favorite.

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Balsamic Watermelon Salad

This is another one of those fruit-lettuce combinations I really enjoy in the summer.  It’s just like the strawberry salad I posed a couple weeks back, only the out-of-season strawberries are swapped with coming-into-season watermelon.  I also interchanged the dressing here, and went with a simple oil/balsamic vinaigrette.

A general rule of thumb you can follow when making dressings like this is two parts oil to one part vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper. I generally like my salad dressings a little more on the acidic side though, so I usually stick with a 1.5:1 ration.  The acidity of the balsamic pairs particularly well with the natural sweetness of the watermelon.  The melon also adds a nice crispy burst of juiciness to each bite of lettuce.  Here, I’ve included chopped mint as well, which keeps the salad even fresher and gives it a cool summer feel.

If you’re looking for an easy dish to contribute to a Fourth of July festivity, fresh salad is always a good one to go with.  Rather than bringing a plain old bowl of lettuce with the expected tomato/onion/cucumber toppings, spruce it up with watermelon and mint to make it a side dish worth remembering.