All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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I remember as a kid hearing that people put salt on things like watermelon and ice cream. That struck me as absolutely ridiculous. I was like this kid here and my favorite line of his, “No. Nobody eats chicken.”
But in the way-too-many years since childhood, I have tasted salted caramel ice cream & loved it & I have tasted watermelon salted & it is wonderful.
The grilling of the watermelon is an unnecessary step but it does change the melon considerably. The grilling adds that grill taste & sort of caramelizes the meat of the fruit a bit. It is kind of an intense change even if you only grill one side and only for 2 minutes – as I did. Grilled – I could only eat one of these little towers. Un-grilled – I could have eaten them all. I feel the same about grilled avocado. Initially – it tastes magical & you think you will never eat another raw avocado. Then after several bites, you start to burn out on the intensity of the flavor. This isn’t a bad thing or a reason not to grill these fruits but just keep it in mind & serve smaller portions of the grilled varieties. Aren’t we all better off with smaller portions of everything anyway?
This can be made, as I said, with uncooked watermelon or with a bit of diced red onion or with goat cheese or without the glaze or without the arugula. The key components are the watermelon, a salty cheese & fresh mint.
The balsamic glaze is simply balsamic boiled then simmered to a thick reduction. This recipe will not give quantities because that is really up to you but know this – 1/4 cup of balsamic reduced to only a teaspoon or two of glaze.
This is a light & easy salad bursting with summery flavors. Your guests will swoon!
Grilled Watermelon & Feta Salad with Mint, Arugula & Balsamic Glaze
Feta cheese (or other salty cheese like Cotija)
Mint – chopped
Balsamic glaze (which is just reduced balsamic vinegar)
Olive oil (if grilling the watermelon)
Bring some balsamic vinegar to a boil & then reduce to a simmer. In 20 minutes – my 1/4 cup of balsamic reduced to only one or two teaspoons of glaze – so boil down an appropriate quantity. My quantity of glaze was sufficient for three little watermelon & feta towers.
If grilling the watermelon – cut it into large chunks. You can cut them the size of a deck of cards or, as I did, use a large cookie cutter & create deep disks. If you are not grilling – you can cut any way you like – including bite-sized cubes.
Heat your grill very hot. Place the watermelon on a little olive oil & grill on that side – the oil side – for no longer than 2 minutes. Do not overcook the watermelon or it will get mushy.
Place some arugula on each plate (optional) & top with the grilled watermelon, crumbled cheese, chopped mint, a drizzle of the glaze & some S&P. Serve those bad boys up!
If not grilling the watermelon – you can just leave that step out or you can toss all the ingredients in a bowl – rather than creating individual servings.