Watermelon Summer Salad

Lies I’ve Believed, A Short List:

My two older sisters and I shared a bedroom from about age five to third grade. A night owl even then, I would lie awake in the dark, delighting my two teenaged, sleep-seeking sisters with a barrage of thought-provoking questions…like…

Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore?
Will my teddy bear Snowy be in heaven?
How do birds fly?

They would sigh (I’m sure in deep contemplation) and roll over in the dark, until one of them was kind enough to inform me of a new solution to my burning questions: I could write them down on a piece of paper and swallow them, and that God would know that question was for him, and instead of sending the paper to my stomach, he would send it to my soul, where it would rest until I met him in eternity and could find answers to all my questions…

…It was maybe several weeks later when my mom found me chewing and swallowing a small piece of paper and put an end to my questions for heaven.

A short time later, I had this friend Emily. Going to her house was like a dream come true to me when I was young, because she had horses, and sometimes we would ride them, and I, at the time, was fairly obsessed with horses. They covered my walls in calendars and collages. I was even a proud subscriber to a magazine called Horse Illustrated.

Anyways, one time Emily’s family got a new horse, and she assured me that he was a great horse, and her older brother helped me get up on the horse, and after two steps, the horse bucked, and I slid to the ground, landing amidst manured hay. Emily and her siblings laughed and laughed as I picked dirt out of my hair.

(This same “friend”…or one of her older siblings, perhaps…also convinced me that sharks could swim up your toilet and bite you after we watched Jaws. To this day, I have a deep and healthy respect for the ocean and its terrifying creatures.)

But I never believed in ghosts (though I loved Ghostwriter…who didn’t?); I never believed that if I stepped on a crack, I would indeed break my mama’s back, and I never believed that a watermelon would grow in my stomach if I swallowed a seed.

Phew. Because this watermelon salad is so good, you have no time to pick out seeds as you shovel heaping spoonfuls of goodness into your mouth.

When I first read this recipe, my eyebrows raised. Watermelon…with onions? Not so sure. I mean, there is perphaps nothing worse than some unknowing cook, cutting watermelon on a cutting board after cutting onions, leaving you with oniony watermelon bites.

But in this salad, watermelon pieces are mixed with a simple, sweet vinaigrette, and then added to salty feta, peppery arugula, and yes, red onions. Your tongue is both confused and amazed as all of the individual flavors have their moment before blending together in a surprising harmony. I added some sunflower seeds, just for a little texture, and a friend and I ate almost all of this pretty little salad for lunch last week.

I feel like I’ve gotten sucked into an endlessly wonderful vortex of pairing fruit with soft cheeses as of late, but this salad will not disappoint. It’s a great little dish to bring along to a barbecue or to have on a little picnic. And its summery and fresh and light – perfect for hot days.

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Spoiler Alert: Stay tuned, folks, for a cookbook giveaway coming this week!

Watermelon Summer Salad

Watermelon Summer Salad

(recipe adapted from The Northern Heartland Kitchen cookbook ) (serves 4 as a light lunch, around 8 as a side dish)

This light summer salad is a unique way to use up all those melons - refreshing and easy to make, it is a perfect light lunch or a great picnic or barbecue side dish. I adapted this recipe just slightly by using way less onion and adding sunflower seeds for some texture.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. raspberry vinegar or lemon juice (I used the vinegar)

2 tbsp. olive oil

pinch of sugar

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 small ripe melon (such as cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon) - seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes

1 large bunch (about 2 1/2 c. packed) arugula

1/3 red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 c. sunflower seeds

4 oz. feta, cut into small cubes (or buy it pre-crumbled)

salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

To make the dressing, mix the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a small, lidded container by shaking vigorously.

Pour the dressing over the cubed melon in a large bowl and toss lightly to coat the melon with the dressing.

Arrange the arugula and onions on a platter. Spoon the melon/dressing combo over the arugula and onions, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Scatter the cheese and sunflower seeds over the melon.

Serve immediately.

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A few notes: I added sunflower seeds onto my second helping of this salad and LOVED the crunchy addition. That's why you don't see them pictured here.

Also - this salad does not keep well. So keep picking at it 'til it's gone!

 

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