At one time I thought of salads as lettuce topped with a few other veggies, and then I tried a lettuce salad at a restaurant that included grapes—whoa. This craziness was followed by lettuce salads that included strawberries, dried cranberries, or thinly sliced apple or pear. Now is it shear madness to see watermelon as the base of a salad paired with feta and olives with no lettuce in sight? Not at all—melon makes a great savory salad.
You can also try cantaloupe paired with frizzled prosciutto, thinly sliced basil, and strips of Parmigiano-Reggiano, or honeydew melon with toasted almonds, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of sea salt and olive oil.
This recipe by Rozanne Gold (chef and cookbook author, including Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease), which appeared in Real Food magazine, is a delicious salad with a totally new twist—pink pickled onions you make yourself. (And you can make them a day in advance.) There is great synergy between the sweet watermelon, the salty feta, the acidity of the pickled onions, and the slight bitterness of the black olives. The salad can be assembled and chilled several hours before serving, with the olive oil poured on just before your guests help themselves.
Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions & Feta
Makes 6 servings
1 medium-large red onion
½ c. rice vinegar
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ c. water
1 ½ lbs. ripe watermelon, seedless and without the rind
8 oz. thinly sliced feta
32 oil-cured black olives, pitted
6 Tbsp. fresh basil, slivered
1/3 c. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Peel onion and slice into very thin rings.
Stir together rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and water until sugar dissolves. Pour over onions. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.
Slice watermelon or cut into 1-inch-by-½-inch cubes. Arrange on a large platter.
Top watermelon with feta. Scatter as many drained onions on top as desired. Scatter salad with olives and basil. Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper just before serving.
Nutrition info (per serving) Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions & Feta:
CALORIES 282 (197 from fat); FAT 22g (sat . 8g); CHOL 34mg; SODIUM 709mg; CARB 16g; FIBER 1g; PROTEIN 7g