food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

watermelon saladWatermelon in a salad is nearly as satisfying as chomping down on a chilled, ripe solitary slice. Nearly.

This is a salad for when watermelons are at their peak, and perhaps when you are satiated with them au naturel. Like ripe peaches, so heavy and plump that biting into them sends their honeyed juices cascading from your elbow, perfect watermelons are unequaled as fruits. Who can resist their saturated pinky-red flesh? Not me.

watermelon saladUnfortunately, because we rely on imports from the Continent, we here in the UK do not always enjoy the best examples. We lug home the ovoid fruity beasts more in hope than in promise. Unlike during my carefree Florida and Tennessee childhood, I am not always tempted to eat watermelon (or peaches) as nature intended. But even the best ones, the ones cut from  vines scurrying around your garden, or purchased from the farm down the road, love to dress up occasionally. This nearly-naked watermelon salad may just be the thing to punctuate the delightful monotony of solo feasting.

Many similar recipes abound, but this is our favourite way.  The hints of chili, lime, mint and feta – and they are just hints – complement the melon beautifully. Cool, hot, salty, sour and sweet. Bliss. And it takes all of five minutes to chuck together.

How do you increase your odds of getting a good watermelon? According to Judy Rodgers, in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, not only must you choose one that is heavy for its size (most of us know that one already) but we should note the ‘resting’ side. The resting side is the pale patch where the melon lays growing. She says to select one “where that flush is more yellow than white; this promises maturity, which is when sugar happens.” She also writes that most sweet, ripe watermelons “vibrate like a drum when you tap them.” None of this is foolproof, but you can increase your odds by taking note of her wisdom.

image from simplyorganic.com

image from simplyorganic.com via google images

Nutrition: And then there are the nutritional aspects of this perfect summer fruit: lycopene, vitamin C, beta carotene, B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), potassium and magnesium.

Lycopene is one of the  anti-cancer buzzwords that you may hear bandied about. And with good reason.  Numerous decent studies have shown that people who eat foods naturally rich in lycopene – a nonprovitamin carotenoid (ie it doesn’t make vitamin A) – have less incidence of cancers of the prostate, lung and stomach. Lycopene may also help to protect against cancer of the cervix, breast, mouth, pancreas, esophagus, and colon and rectum. (The FDA doesn’t quite give lycopene – in tomatoes – a ringing cancer prevention endorsement.) The anti-cancer action may be related to lycopene’s key ability to block the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. It is likely that it is not just lycopene doing all of the hard work, but lycopene in synergy with many other naturally occurring plant compounds found in colourful fruits and vegetables (hence the non-ringing FDA endorsement methinks). Other sources of lycopene: tomatoes (tomato paste is the most concentrated source), guava, apricot, papaya and pink grapefruits. On the latter, many medications – including chemotherapy drugs – list grapefruit juice as a contraindication (ie, shouldn’t have it).

More good news about watermelon – it is among the least sprayed of all crops (see my page,  Pesticides In Foods, for more info). Another slice please!

Watermelon. It’s red, it’s round, it smashes on the ground. And it’s dead tasty too. When you tire of eating it straight, dress it up ever so slightly a la food to glow. Or see one of the links below to other great watermelon recipes.

watermelon saladNearly-Naked Watermelon Salad

Last Year: Roasted Nicoise Salad with Burrata and Parsley Pesto

Two Years: A Non-Purist’s Gazpacho

Track of the Week: Steal My Sunshine by Len (1999) – classic late 90s song from a one-hit wonder. Check out this blog post from Work In Progress for a ‘nerd’s eye view’ (I don’t think he will be offended with this comment!) and re-visitation of the making of the Daytona Beach video. 

It is all about the watermelon. Everything else in this simple refreshing salad is there to complement, rather than scream for attention. Add thinly sliced red onions, oil, vinegar, pine nuts or even ripe tomatoes if you want, but this is how we prefer it. Goes superbly well with a Mediterranean feast of lamb koftas, grilled aubergines and courgettes, lemony tomato salad and all the lovely Middle Eastern dips and breads, such as hummus (traditional chickpea or broad bean), tzatsiki (from Nigel Slater) and roast beetroot and cashew. Vegans, this is still divine without the cheese, but do add sumac for its tart-savoury notes.

Serves at least 4, but will easily stretch to 8 with a full meal

Deseeded cubes of watermelon cut from a 2 kg (4 lb) ripe watermelon (see above for hints on how to pick the best watermelon)

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced thinly (make it easy to see so that feardies can fish them out)

½ lime OR 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (sometimes I like both, mixed first then drizzled over)

100-200g sheeps’ milk feta cheese (we usually have closer to 100 grams)

handful fresh mint leaves -washed, patted dry with kitchen roll and thinly sliced or torn

1 tsp crushed sumac (optional)

Black pepper (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to combine the watermelon cubes (they definitely won’t all be cubes – ‘random shapes’ more like it), red chilli slices and lime or pomegranate molasses. Pour this onto a flat serving platter and crumble over the feta and then top with the sliced or torn mint, and the sumac and black pepper if using. Serve immediately or cover and keep cool for a couple of hours. It is best straight away though as cut watermelon deteriorates rather quickly.watermelon salad

Other Watermelon Recipes To Try:

Watermelon Rind Chutney via Jean-Francois at the no-waste blog 222 Million Tons

Strawberry Watermelon Mint Elixir and Popsicles via EA Stewart of The Spicy RD

Watermelon Aqua Fresca via Chef In You

Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho via Jerry James Stone of Cooking Stoned (beautiful images)

From Food To Glow:

Watermelon and Green Tea Soothie

And this mini recipe I mentioned in my deodorant (!) post – frozen watermelon whizzed in blender with a little chili, lime juice and mint (plus splash of vodka, white rum or tequila?)

Popping this easy peasy recipe over to Made With Love Mondays over at Mark’s Cookin’ W’Luv.

DSC_0182

35 thoughts on “Nearly-Naked Watermelon Salad

  1. Your pictures are beautiful! I can not resist watermelon either but my lover boy…well he hates it. He won’t even smell a slice if I ask him to. What a weirdo!

    1. What a weirdo indeed 😀 I have literally never heard of anyone who – if they have tried it (there will be people who don’t eat any fruit or veg) – didn’t like watermelon. Must be a childhood trauma thing. Wonder if one fell on his foot or something. We must be told!

      1. lol It’s possible that his mom ate too much of it when he was in the womb, or maybe not enough!

  2. I’m glad for your healthy recipe you’ve written. It’s very rich in water, minerals and other nutrients.

  3. hagertx says:

    RE: Steal My Sunshine Video Revisited.
    “Nerd’s Eye View” is quite alright with me. 🙂

    1. I didn’t think you would mind seeing as you styled yourself as a Len-Nerd. I’m a food-nerd (definitely kale-nerd) Loved the piece. Thanks for the approval 😀

  4. annaamherd says:

    Wow, this looks really delicious and like the real summer dish! I did a salad last week with nectarines (is that how you call them in English?) and tomatoes. Summers fruits are the best 🙂

    1. Your English is perfect. Yes, nectarines. I can imagine nectarines and ripe tomatoes being great together – the salinity of the tomatoes with the sweetness of the nectarines – mmm. I wonder what kind of dressing you put with it, if any?

      1. annaamherd says:

        Ooh, dressing, yes of course 🙂 But just some simple stuff, like olive oil, honey and balsamico.
        You can view the recipe here: http://in80toepfenumdiewelt.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/tomaten-nektarinen-salat-sommer/

        But only in German, unfortunately.

      2. Thanks. My daughter can read German!

  5. What stunning colours, and that salad sounds so refreshing 🙂

  6. Your photos are so beautiful! This watermelon salad looks amazing – might have it at my next BBQ!

    1. I hope you do. Although it seems popular and common enough in ‘foodie’ circles, there are loads of people who have never heard of it. It is lovely surprising people, for all the right reasons ;D

  7. lizzygoodthings says:

    Kellie, I love your take on this salad, which is one I have not made for years! Now I’m wishing summer would come so that watermelons are at their best. Lovely recipe, thank you for sharing xo

  8. riadlinda says:

    Your photos are beautiful Kellie. Watermelons are plentiful here in Morocco & we often make a a very refreshing watermelon ‘cocktail’ for our guests!

    1. I bet you have fantastic watermelons in Morocco – and cheap too. So jealous! What’s in your cocktail?

  9. I LOVE watermelon juice with just ice and a dash of fresh mint – so unbelievably refreshing, DELISH!

    1. Watermelon and mint are divine partners.

  10. That watermelon salad looks amazing – you take such great pictures! I’ve never tried watermelon salad because it always has too many ingredients, and I love the taste of watermelon on it’s own. But this recipe sounds perfectly simple, I will definitely be trying it this weekend!

    1. I am glad you appreciate it’s simplicity. It is SO easy and goes well with loads of things, although I will just gobble up a big one for a meal on its own – breakfast

  11. mewinebrenner says:

    Mmmm I love watermelon salads. Especially with feta – the sweet salty combo is sooo divine!

  12. oh I love this recipe. Perfect for a really hot day. I can imagine a great breakfast option.
    I agree that we don’t get the best examples in the UK – too often just past their best, slightly furry texture to the flesh. However when fresh and in season there is nothing like it. so clean tasting and such a lovely sweetness

  13. What a stunning salad, Kellie! I love the vibrant red of the watermelon and the feta and mint sound delicious. On those rare occasions where I can refrain from eating the watermelon just as is 😉

  14. Oooh, this looks sensational! I love the flavour combo, brilliant!

    Ive just realised that although I dont make every single recipe you post (but quite a lot!) , I always have your ideas in my subconscious when I am out shopping. Also, from reading your blog over the past two and a half years, I am definitely more aware of nutritional benefits of certain foods and I am less and less tolerant of bad foods and really dont enjoy biting into choccy wrapped biscuits as I think of the trans fats oozing out into my body. Of course Im no angel but I am definitely more aware thanks to your informative writing, thank you! x

  15. narf77 says:

    I think I am a fruit purist. I just like my fresh fruit raw and eaten by itself. My mum used to make a watermelon salad much like this one but I never tried it. I guess some things are just “sacred” to me 😉

    1. I like fruit on its own mainly. But when there is a lot of one thing around I like to find new or tweaked ways to eat it. And certainly if I get a ‘duff’ example I’d rather tart it up a little than chuck it/compost it!

      1. narf77 says:

        I think I would juice it or lactoferment it but your salad looks tasty. I am one of those people who just doesn’t mix fruit with anything else. I can’t get my head around sweet fruit in savoury recipes. I don’t eat Hawaiian pizza 😉

      2. Ugh – Hawaii pizza! Wrong on so many levels! I didn’t think I would like feta with watermelon (texture and taste thing) but I recommend a smaller amount than most people do (where it seems more about the cheese). It’s more as a seasoning. But I also like this without cheese but with the mint, chilli and lime. And then whizzed up in a drink!

      3. narf77 says:

        Now drinking it I could handle! 🙂

  16. Lovely watermelon salad! I have all the ingredients on hand minus the pomegranate molasses & I’ve been wanting to try more Middle Eastern cooking, so must buy some ASAP! Thanks so much for sharing my elixir and popsicles too!

    1. You are welcome. It was a perfect fit with this post. A most beautiful recipe, Miss EA

  17. I love watermelon and mint. Looking forward to trying this

  18. Free-essence says:

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try out the recipes 🙂

  19. So simple and beautiful! My favorite summer combo- plus a little arugula and balsamic!

    1. You obviously have very good taste 😀 Thanks for following, and for the two lovely comments.

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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