Friday, June 22, 2012

all things watermelon..... in a salad

dear readers, and by that i mean mom and friends who happen to randomly click on my blog through facebook. hi. you have not seen me in a while, i recognize, and lest you think i had disappeared into a vortex of sauteed kale and ice coffee, i thought i would say hi. actually what happened was that i was making a feta watermelon salad last week, and when i came to and realized i was standing over the serving bowl making yummy noises while i picked at the salad completely not aware of what i was doing, i realized that i had to tell you all about the goodness that is watermelon. in a salad. but before we get to that, my apologies for my long hiatus, both of my grandmothers passed away in late winter and B and i broke up, and the confluence off all this loss in one month was a bit overwhelming. since everything i cook, and everything i say, comes from my heart, i felt the need to be with myself for a bit, in a space of contemplation. but then this morning, after finally catching up on some much needed sleep (i love my job but do miss the days of unemployment), and while enjoying the breeze from my ceiling fan before the day heated up (shout out to Dr. Schulyer Wheeler who invented the electric fan in 1886, the man was a visionary) i realized i was composing a blog post in my head, which means i should share it with you instead of only with my id or my ego or... i don't know, i am a chef not a psychologist. so hi. welcome back.

as you may have noticed from, or from having a pulse, summer is here. and with it comes the plethora of amazing local fruits and vegetables that make this my favorite time of year, despite the insanity of it being almost 100 degrees. PLEASE GOD let it cool off and just give me the fruits and vegetables anyway, thanks. so to celebrate summer i bought some watermelons last week, and not realizing just how big the yield would be from said watermelons have been "forced" to enjoy the watermelon in all its forms, sliced, juiced, grilled, in a salad, you get the idea. not that i mind, watermelon juice is much better than cabbage juice, so happily i didnt buy too many heads of that. ok, onto the recipes!

1) Watermelon and Feta Salad:

1/4 of a ripe watermelon, cubed
5 oz crumbled sheeps milk feta
1/4 of a red onion, diced
a few sprigs of mint, finely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

ok so before you say, olive oil and watermelon !?!?!? let me preemptively say, yes, because i had the same reaction. i have made the above salad a number of times in the past without olive oil and it was wonderful, but while trolling the internet for other people's watermelon ideas to steal and use for my insane stock of watermelon i came across the addition of olive oil suggestion and though at first skeptical, after i tried it was when i started making the yummy noises, and yummy noises always speak for themselves.

mix all of the above in a bowl and serve immediately. if you need to make it in advance prep all the ingredients and wait til serving to combine. serves 6, and can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, you get the idea. enjoy!

oh, and if you can't find sheeps feta you can use cows too, the sheeps is just a little easier to digest and doesnt make you as farklepmt.

2) Spinach and Grilled Watermelon Salad:

1 lb baby spinach, washed, spun and checked for bugs
1/3 to 1/2 of a watermelon (depending on size), sliced into 1"slices
5 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 cup toasted walnuts

for the dressing:
the reserved grilled watermelon juice (see below)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste

grill the watermelon on a cast iron grill pan indoors or on your BBQ grill outside. Watermelon grills very quickly so you wont need more than a minute per slice, flip and do both sides. do this at least a few hours in advance, preferably the day before, then chill your grilled watermelon (overnight) in the fridge.

to assemble your salad, fill a lovely serving bowl with your washed and checked spinach, remove your grilled watermelon from the juices that have collected while it was resting, but reserve the juices for your salad dressing, then cube the watermelon and add it to the bowl, along with the blue cheese and walnuts.

to make the dressing pour the reserved grilled watermelon juice, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic in the blender and give it a jujj. dress your salad and enjoy. serves 10.

a word about lime juice. and lemon juice for that matter. while fresh squeezed is best, the convenience of bottled cannot be beat. a good compromise is the stuff from santa cruz organic which has wonderful almost fresh squeezed flavor and unlike most bottled lemon and lime juice does not contain benzoate, a preservative, which when combined with citric acid forms benzene, a completely toxic chemical.

oy. did i leave you with a sad note instead of a happy watermelony one? ok, let me remedy that with the following. WATERMELON. SUMMER. BEACH. BBQ. EVENING BREEZES. better? chodesh tov and blessings for a beautiful love filled shabbos.

happy eating!