My introduction to watermelon salad was not a fortuitous one. I had gone to my then boyfriend/now husband’s grandparents house for dinner. His grandmother (knowing of my love for melon) served me a bowl of crisp watermelon cubes smothered in stinky white Bulgarian cheese. Let me tell you, giving birth was nothing compared to eating my way through that lovingly prepared salad. I just might have scooped half the contents of my bowl onto my boyfriend’s plate when her back was turned. Yup I did, I confess.
It has taken me 25 years but I am over it and ready to embrace watermelon salad with open arms.
Perfect for those days when it is too hot to cook. Begin by cubing up half a watermelon. Toss it in a bowl with fresh herbs (I used mint and nasturtium), slice strawberries, and chop chives. Whisk up your vinaigrette and you are ready to eat. Crunchy, sweet, acidic, minty, peppery, addictive.
Yesterday I noticed the first garnet strawberry winking at me from beneath dark green leaves. Like columbines they face downwards dipping and waving coquettishly in the wind.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
-Terry Prachett, A Hat Full of sky
My boy, when he was small and unbearably sweet, begged me to plant strawberries in the garden. Plant them we did on a little hill beneath the plum tree.
“Where would you like to go, what would you really like to do with your life?
See Istanbul, Port Said, Nairobi, Budapest. Write a book. Smoke too many cigarettes. Fall off a cliff but get caught in a tree halfway down. Get shot at a few times in a dark alley on a Moroccan midnight. Love a beautiful woman.”
–Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
A crunchy refreshing salad of diced fresh watermelon, torn mint, garlicky chives, and sweet strawberries lightly dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. I use both the peel and the ruby flesh of the melon. Between the dark green outer skin and inner red flesh there is a lovely layer of light green that is reminiscent of cucumber.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 average sized watermelon, cubed
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1/4 cup chives (or anything in the allium family you have on hand, like scallions or onions.)
- 1/3 cup fresh herbs, torn (I used a mix of mint and nasturtium but any will do)
- 1/2 cup edible flowers optional
- 1 cup julienned watermelon rind, dark green peel removed
Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Alternately place then in a jar with a secure lid and shake till emulsified.
Half your watermelon setting aside the half you are not using. Place the 1/2 watermelon cut side down on a cutting board. With a sharp knife slice off the top of the melon. (Note in photos you can see what I mean. Now slicing downward remove the thin dark green outermost layer of skin. After you have removed the dark outer skin, slice off slabs of the light green flesh of the melon. Julianne about a cup of these.
Cube up the red part of the melon to a pleasing 1inch dice.
Chop up or tear up your herbs.
Chop the chives to 1/2 inch pieces.
Slice up your strawberries.
In a large salad bowl place; watermelon, julienned rind, sliced strawberries, herbs and chives.
Serve the vinaigrette alongside the salad so people can dress their salad to their taste.