Watermelon, feta and mint in “The Summer’s Most Amazing Salad”
|June 9, 2009||Posted by Lindsay under Vegetarian|
Fair warning: this salad may change your (summer) life.
I discovered it last July when I was looking for ways to use leftover watermelon I’d bought for a summery dessert. It’s from Nigella Lawson’s “Forever Summer,” a cookbook I use all year long. Her Greek salad, with onions steeped in red wine vinegar and olive oil and salty chunks of Hidden Springs feta, is a perennial staple, and I love her slow-roasted garlic and lemon chicken.
Here, the combination of watermelon, feta, lime-steeped red onion, olives and herbs creates this bright, sweet-salty, fresh mix that’s completely irresistible. Nigella writes, it is “utterly fantastic, both savory and refreshing at the same time.” By now I must have made this salad several dozen times at least. I am in love with it.
Technically it’s a little too early for this salad in this part of the country. But when I saw slices of watermelon beckoning beautifully for the first time in months at the co-op, I caved.
Use the recipe for a reference — I almost never cook for eight, but it’s simple to adapt it for one, especially if you have herbs growing in pots outside your door like I do. (Summer is so great.)
I don’t know how else to say this salad is awesome. Make this. Make this!
Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad
- 1 small red onion
- 2-4 limes, depending on juiciness
- 3 1/2 lbs. sweet, ripe watermelon (seedless is bad for the environment but so easy to use…)
- 9 oz. feta cheese (I use 1-2 oz. for a single serving)
- bunch flat leaf parsley
- bunch fresh mint, chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (the good stuff; I use 1 tsp. for one)
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) pitted black olives (get pitted Kalamatas from an olive bar if possible)
- fresh ground black pepper
Directions: Peel and halve the red onion and slice into thin half-moons (a mandolin is handy here, but use the hand guard — I have cut myself making this salad at least 3 times). Squeeze the limes and put the onions in a bowl to steep with the juice. This is to “bring out the transparent pinkness in the onions and diminish their rasp.”
Remove the rind and seeds of the watermelon and chop it into assorted chunks, about 1 3/4-inch triangles. Nigella says to cut the feta into similar pieces, but just crumble it, it’s easier. Tear off sprigs of parsley so it’s closer to a salad green (and less like a garnish) and add fruit, feta and parsley to a bowl with chopped mint.
Tip the “now glowingly puce” onions with the juice into the bowl, add a drizzle of oil and the olives, and toss with your hands. Grind pepper over, and taste to see if you need more lime. Divine!