Monday, July 26, 2010

Watermelon Salad with Feta

Watermelon and feta? Interesting, but weird. That about sums up my thoughts when I first saw a watermelon and feta salad several years ago at Au Bon Pain. I never tried it, but I also never quite forgot about it either. More recently, I have come across many recipes that pair watermelon with surprising savory ingredients. Which of course, made me more clearly remember that watermelon and feta salad from back in the day. And it got me thinking. Watermelon and feta equals sweet and salty. I like sweet and salty combos. I also love both watermelon and feta. Duh, what am I waiting for?

And so I began to look more carefully through some of the watermelon salad recipes that had caught my eye. Today’s salad is the first one I came across. It intrigued me with its use of sweet watermelon, creamy feta, salty olives, crunchy onions, and a simple, mildly spicy dressing. All of those flavors and textures lent themselves well to a delicious and refreshing summer salad. The quick and easy preparation of the salad makes it a great weeknight option that would accompany many entrĂ©es nicely, particularly grilled meats. It is also very pretty to look at, so it would be great for entertaining, too.

Watermelon Salad with Feta
Adapted from Food and Wine

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon harissa or other hot sauce or chili paste (I used sambal olek) *
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I used quite a bit)

For the Salad:
1 1/2 lbs. seedless watermelon, rind removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Moroccan or other oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

* You may want to use more or less hot sauce/chili paste depending on how hot yours is and how spicy you’d like your dressing to be.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and hot sauce/chili paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the watermelon slices on individual salad plates or a large platter. Sprinkle the onion, parsley, olives and feta over the watermelon. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve.

Serves 4.

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