For years I wasn’t a fan of watermelon. Not sure why, but I’d see watermelon and think, “Meh”. This summer, for some reason, the watermelon called to me. How sad that for years I’d been missing out on its sweet, refreshing and rehydrating, drink-like qualities. Now I can’t get enough. A bowl of watermelon cubes for breakfast on a hot summer morning? Divine. Slices of watermelon for a beach snack? Cooling and lovely. Watermelon with feta cheese in this salad? Refreshing and hearty at the same time. See where I was going with that?
Balance is the key with this salad. Too much feta and it’s a salty feta fest. Too much watermelon and it turns into a fruit salad that’s gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd. Strike a balance between the savory and sweet, and you’ve got a refreshing and cool side dish or light main dish.
Choose a firm feta cheese with a large grain to make consistent cubes. A crumbly feta with a smaller grain will break apart and can give the salad an unwanted chalky texture. Another note is that the finely sliced red onion marinates for a few hours in the dressing to smooth out some of its bite.
There are a lot of watermelon feta salad recipes out there. This one offers the just the right blend of sweet, cold watermelon cubes, briny feta, finely sliced red onion, and a slightly sweet dressing, tossed with subdued Boston lettuce and sassy baby chard.
Watermelon Feta Salad – Serves 4
(Note: The onions should marinate for 2 – 4 hours to sweeten them up a bit, but this step is optional if you just want the salad now.)
1/3 C olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T orange juice (freshly squeezed is preferable, about one half an orange)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 head Boston lettuce, loosely chopped
1 C baby greens, such as spinach, kale, chard, etc.
2 C watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
7 – 8 ounces firm Feta cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
In a medium sized, non-reactive bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, salt and pepper. Add the onion and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 2 – 4 hours (this step is optional, but it makes for milder onions).
Rinse the lettuce and baby greens and loosely chop. Toss together in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the top, and toss with tongs to thoroughly coat the leaves.
Add thee quarters of the watermelon and the feta and lightly toss with the tongs, being careful not to crush the watermelon and feta cubes. Pour the salad into a pretty, pretty dish (in the words of my mother). Decorate the top with the remaining watermelon and feta.
Life is about balance and this dish is pretty healthy, so be sure to serve with something like this.
Ingredient Origins: olive oil and balsamic vinegar – Italy; orange – Florida; salt – France; black pepper – India; red onion – Massachusetts; Boston lettuce and baby greens – my very own backyard; Watermelon – California; feta cheese – Greece.