I’ll admit it. I’m not a good fruit eater year around. The Professor eats one or two apples every day. I hate apples. I like oranges when they’re in season. I like bananas…in dessert. I love sweet grapes, but rarely buy them because they’re so expensive.
But when summer comes around, I gorge myself on fruit. I eat peaches and apricots and black plums until I’m sick. And watermelon. I heart watermelon. Especially bright red, scrumptious, flavorful watermelon.
Watermelon selection has always been iffy for me. I’ve heard that there’s no real way to pick a watermelon. (Life is like a watermelon…you never know what you’re gonna get). The thumping method doesn’t do much and it’s not like you can smell it. The two-inch thick rind prevents that.
Watermelon Selection Tips
Look for a melon that is:
- Bright green
- Has a well-defined ground spot (the yellowish spot where it sat on the ground). There shouldn’t be any other yellow on the melon besides the ground spot
- Doesn’t have any bruises
Since following those guidelines, I’ve had much better luck with my watermelon selection. This is a good thing because a bad watermelon that costs $5 to $7 makes me grumpy.
My new favorite vehicle for ingesting watermelon this year is a salad. Seriously, how did it take an appetizer at BJ’s Brewhouse to get me to think of this? I should have thought of it years ago.
You should make this. It might change your life.
First, use my watermelon tips to select a perfect piece of fruit. Look at this! I didn’t photoshop it. It was this bright and juicy. God bless summer.
Speaking of photoshop, I’d rather have my own sub-par photos than sterile stock photos stolen from the internet, so bear with me and my sucky photos.
Quarter it and then run your knife between the rind and the fruit, being careful not to get any of the rind. It tastes gross. Also avoid the light pink part between the bright fruit and the rind. It’s watermelon purgatory.
This makes it easy to slice the fruit into cubes, which is fancier than my usual method of grabbing half a fruit, a big spoon and plunking the melon onto the middle of the table for people to help themselves. Sometimes I’m fancy.
Slice some lettuce up. I use hearts of romaine, but use whatever you want. Spinach or baby greens would be nice. I can eat neither. My stomach is too damaged from 12 years of undiagnosed gluten intolerance and I throw up any lettuce except hearts of romaine. They don’t call it roughage for nothing! (Sorry. TMI moment).
Thinly slice a bit of red onion or a shallot or a handful of the top green parts of green onions. I’ve used all three, and they all do the job of providing a crunch and a bit of yummy, oniony spice. I had leftover shallots from something else, so I used it here. Whatever you use, just remember that a little goes a long way. Don’t cut up too much.
Chop some mint. Once again, a little goes a long way. This is mint from my garden. It seems to be tougher than mint from the grocery store, so I chopped it up into little pieces.
Next make the honey vinaigrette salad dressing.
My inspiration for this salad is from BJ’s Brewhouse. I always marveled at how light and fresh the salad is. I got it to go once, and the dressing was on the side. I always thought the dressing was light and mild, but when I tasted the dressing on its own, it was actually quite strong. I tasted a lot more mustard and a lot less honey that I expected. Those strong tastes – in extreme moderation – make this salad incredibly dynamic.
The dressing is just oil, honey, vinegar, mustard powder (or dijon), salt and pepper. If you are like me and have a BFF who gave you this super fancy salad dressing maker because she knows you are
semi completely obsessed with making your own salad dressings (thanks Sarah Faye!), mix it in that. Otherwise, any old container with a lid or bowl and a whisk will do.
Give it a taste for saltiness and sweetness. Adjust if needed.
Sprinkle on some feta.
This salad is all about the mixing of sweet, tart and spicy elements. The fruit is sweet, the dressing is tart, the feta is really tart and the onions and mint are spicy in their own delectable ways. I got cheese happy and the feta’s tartness overpowered the salad a bit. Use restraint, which I know is hard when it comes to cheese.
Tip, if you find feta is too sharp for you, buy cheap feta made from cow’s milk instead of goat’s milk. That’s what I do. It’s quite a bit tamer. And cheaper!
Sprinkle on A VERY SMALL AMOUNT of dressing (once again, a little goes a long way) and voila!
- 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
- 1/4 of a seedless watermelon, cubed
- 1/4 of a small red onion or one shallot or a few sliced green onions, sliced thin
- Sprinkle of Feta
- A few mint leaves, stemmed and chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil (you could use 1/8 olive oil and 1/8 vegetable or grapeseed oil to cut the tartness)
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp honey - start with 1
- 1/2 tsp of dry mustard powder (I haven't tried it yet, but you could also just use a squirt of dijon)
- Salt and fresh-ground pepper
- Add all the dressing ingredients except the oil. Give it a shake or a stir. Add the oil and stir once more.