This is not the watermelon salad of our youth. Wait a minute…I don’t think there was a watermelon salad of our youth. We just ate watermelon. Straight up. No accoutrements. You know what I mean.
Well, times have changed, and while there was a version of watermelon salad with lemon pudding that appeared in my college years (along with a certain someone, but that’s a story for another time) and was downright fantastic, now we have moved on to mixing the sweet with the savory. The sweet of course is the melon, but also a little lime in the dressing to zaz it up. The savory? Onions and feta. It may sound strange, or not all, as this combination has been around for a while. I first had it a little over a year ago at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in the Napa Valley. That version was a tad spicy but still I was sold. Try this milder one at your next barbecue, or book club (like I did), or anyplace where American fare is the menu du jour.
Adapted from Paula Deen and Pat and Gina Neely.
Serves 8-10. Halve the ingredients for a smaller group.
- 6 cups diced seedless watermelon
- 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- the zest of one lime
- 1 avocado diced (optional and I don’t recommend if there will be leftovers)
For the dressing
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each)
Obviously, one mixes, then tosses, above ingredients. However, one important strategy is that once the dressing is made (do this first by putting all the ingredients in a jar and shaking…wait a minute, zest your lime before that), add the sliced onions to the dressing so that they soften a bit while you chop the watermelon and prepare the rest of the salad. If not serving immediately, keep the onions in the dressing. When you finally do serve, spoon the onions on top of the salad before adding the dressing as you might not want to add quite all of the dressing. Add in increments and taste so as not overdress. If you’re adding avocado, do so at the last minute to avoid browning.
You can take this salad in other directions by adding arugula, pine nuts, or by swapping red onions and goat cheese for the Vidalias and the feta. It really doesn’t matter since the watermelon is the star. This time I went with simple. I didn’t want to overpower our menu ,after all, where Molly’s Corn Casserole, Norma’s Japanese Carrots (ok, well, not so American) and Barb’s Roasted Veggies were big hits.
I think you’re going to need those recipes soon as well. Guess post anyone?