The musical sounds of the ice cream truck....heaps of fresh corn on the cob at the store.... roses and peonies opening their colorful blooms. There are many early signs of summer, but I know the season has officially arrived when I first spot the giant bins brimming with those bright green orbs promising sunny days and barbecues ahead.
Watermelon immediately makes people smile. It’s not only a fruit; it’s a little bit of American nostalgia. I remember slurping on giant slices of it as a kid at little league games and measuring our street cred by how far we could spit the seeds.
One particular day at a family cookout in East Tennessee stands out in my mind, when a cousin of mine pointed out that sprinkling salt on watermelon is “purdy good.” Intrigued, I tried it and agreed.
I still find myself reaching for the salt shaker every time watermelon graces my plate, hence, the inspiration for this dish.
The saltiness of the feta and the sweetness of the melon make a refreshing pair for summer. I added the red onion for a little bite and the walnuts for crunch, but you could switch it up by adding a different nut or by leaving them off all together.
This dish is the perfect complement to a grilled chicken breast, or it can easily stand alone as a lighter side for your next summer barbeque. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette is best homemade, but you could also use your favorite store-bought version.
Pair with a bottle of crisp pinot gris or sauvignon blanc, and while you’re at it, go ahead…sprinkle a little salt on that leftover watermelon… it’s purdy good.
Watermelon and Feta Salad with Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yields: 4 servings
1 small package spring mix lettuce (about 5 oz)
2 cups diced watermelon
2 cups diced feta cheese (or crumbled)
1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Balsamic vinaigrette, as needed, recipe follows
- Arrange spring mix on plates, then add the watermelon, feta, red onion, and walnuts.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette just before serving.
- Learn how to dice a watermelon by clicking here
- Put your onion cutting skills to the test by clicking here
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yields: about 1 ½ cups (enough for 4 people)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp. honey (or 2 Tbsp. sugar)
1 cup canola oil
Pinch salt & pepper
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, and honey.
- Whisk vigorously with your right hand as you slowly drizzle in the oil with your left hand. It will start to thicken up and develop a nice sheen.
- Once all the oil is incorporated, it is finished. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: If you like your dressing a little thinner, whisk in a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach the desired consistency.