Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Last Summer Salad

You may think that watermelon is strictly a dessert fruit but hopefully this salad will convince you otherwise. It's sweet and crunchy from the melon, creamy and salty from the ricotta salata and the basil gives it a lovely herby, savory finish. The flavors mesh so well in a way you'd never expect that even though it may seem so wrong in your head it is just one of those crazy things that actually works. I served this salad at a little Dallas dinner party with some friends alongside grilled chicken. It was light but complex and worked very well with the grilled meat. And even better, it was a snap to make- 3 ingredients, 1 bowl, very little prep and a completely surprising and colorful addition to a party.
My friend Robin, of Silk Purse and Sow's Ear, has been part of a CSA share this summer and I've loved following her veggie takes. As much as I'd love to do a CSA it's so hard when I travel so much, so I play voyeur with hers. And every week there seems to be one little watermelon, so when we had dinner last night I talked up this salad, and how she absolutely has to try it. But Robin is also lactose intolerant... so I've been trying to think of ways to make this without the cheese and still have it stand up pretty well. 

Our first thought was tofu. Like a very hard and compressed tofu that had maybe been infused with a flavor of some sort. Soy? Oregano? Or scratch the tofu and go with roasted cashews- which are a softer, almost creamier nut and used in a lot of vegan and raw cooking as a cheese substitute. But I think you'd miss the salty sharpness. So maybe some red wine vinegar dashed over with sprinkles of flaky maldon sea salt. I'm still racking my brain trying to think of the perfect ricotta salata no dairy substitute. Any other  ideas out there?

Watermelon Salad with Basil and Ricotta Salata
3 c. seedless watermelon- cut into 1" chunks
3/4 c. crumbled ricotta salata- can also substitute with feta
10-15 basil leaves- finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. After cutting, put watermelon in a large bowl. Add in the cheese and basil. Mix well and serve.


  1. I'd never thought about using cashews, Alicia! What a good idea. I don't really like them just out of the box, but mixed in a recipe might be the ticket!

  2. Possibly some cashews roasted with tamari... like tamari almonds? Ideas ideas:)

  3. Last night had a watermelon salad with arugula, prosciutto, pickled onions and ginger. Another idea and equally as delicious!



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