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A New Twist on a Summer Favorite

Watermelon and Arugula Salad.jpg
Langdon Clay (Simply Salads cookbook)

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I don’t think any fruit says summer and back-yard barbecues like watermelon. I love it, my kids love it … a juicy, refreshing slice of watermelon is just hands-down a quintessential favorite.

And, there is no better time to enjoy a watermelon than now. Not only are they in their peak season, August 3 just happens to be National Watermelon Day.

Most people only think of serving watermelons sliced … but one of my favorite ways to enjoy this juicy treat is in a salad. I just love the whole “savory versus sweet” thing that goes on when you match ripe, sweet fruits with savory ingredients.

For my go-to salad, I toss watermelon with spicy arugula. I find that a flavorful green like arugula provides a great contrast to the sweet fruit. Spinach would be a good substitute as well as any flavorful baby lettuce. Unfortunately, romaine and iceberg just don’t work as well as a more flavorful, greener lettuce leaf.

In the South, we like to salt our watermelon slices. (Don’t make a face if you haven’t tried it!) The salt actually enhances the melon’s sweetness. To get that same experience in this salad, I add crumbled Feta cheese. This salty cheese works the same way Kosher salt would on a cold slice of watermelon.

Also, consider tossing a bright, fresh herb like mint or basil into the mix. Both of these herbs taste so good with watermelon.

A simple vinaigrette made with freshly squeezed lemon juice and red wine vinegar brings the dish together.

So for the next time you buy a watermelon … think salad rather than slices.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Watermelon and Arugula Salad

For the vinaigrette:1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice1 tbsp. red wine vinegar4 tbsp. olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:1 small watermelon, seeded, rind removed, and cut into 1-inch cubes1 package (5 oz.) Baby Arugula salad blend2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, shredded1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

For the vinaigrette:

In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:

In a large salad bowl toss the salad blend, watermelon, feta cheese, and pine nuts. Add the vinaigrette to taste and gently toss.

Makes 6 appetizer or side salads.

Reprinted with permission from Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler.

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.