Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth!

On the way to work this morning, I was feeling a little bummed about having to work on the 4th, when just about everybody else will be out enjoying a long weekend. The ride in only reinforced this: the streets of Winchester were deserted. During my trip to work, I did not see another vehicle. None of the other businesses around me are open, so the town has a very quiet, almost Sunday morning feel, but without any church traffic.

To try to take my mind off this on my way in, I tried to think of appropriate blog topics for today, but that only reinforced the funk. So, I arrived this morning without a good blog topic in mind. Fortunately, when I retrieved my emails from my server, I got one from a customer inquiring if I had ever heard of a salad that she had eaten in Chicago featuring watermelon, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar reduction.

Well, not only have I heard of such salads, I make them very frequently in the summer. It's a great adult way to indulge your inner child.

While the combination of balsamic vinegar and fruit is a good one—try strawberries with a splash of balsamic to see what I mean—I like a more aggressive vinegar to offset the sweetness of the watermelon.

The idea behind this salad is contrast. I learned from my mother a long time ago that the contrast of salt on watermelon makes the melon taste better. As an adult, I morphed that sprinkle of salt on my slice of watermelon to cubes of salty feta cheese in my watermelon salad. The combination is outstanding. Just a touch of raw red onion adds a bit of bite and texture. Without further ado, here is my basic summer watermelon salad.

Watermelon Salad

Seedless watermelon, cubed
feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
red onion, in small dice
red wine vinegar, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

The ratio of watermelon to feta is a personal one. I like about 4 watermelon to 1 feta: suit your own taste. Place the watermelon, feta, and onion in a bowl. Add a bit of vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Correct seasonings. This salad tastes best at room temperature.

Well, that was hard, huh? Now, I often do variations to fit my mood or the dishes that I want to accompany. Here are some ideas:

Add some chiffonade of mint: great with lamb
Add some chiffonade of basil: great with salmon
Substitute really old balsamic vinegar and serve as a dessert or sweeter salad
Add toasted pumpkin seeds to spoof the watermelon seeds: fun and crunchy

Finally, Kathy, thanks for the idea. I'm going to put a little watermelon salad with the grilled prosciutto-wrapped Hawaiian king prawns on tonight's dinner menu.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recipe for watermelon/feta. I like the feta chunks and will try your red wine vinegar. Starved for good recipes in MT, and can't wait to get to VA and come to your restaurant.