Watermelon Salad

I love the Monroe Farmer’s Market.

I realize that it’s ridiculously small by big city standards — usually just three stalls. But they stock the most delicious… well, everything. I buy perfect small red potatoes for potato salad and the best cantaloupes and watermelons. My favorite Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Peaches, fresh corn, blueberries, yellow squash… the list goes on.

I’ve been going since my oldest (now a teenager) was a baby. And this morning, for some unknown reason, when I said “do you want to go to the farmer’s market with me?” he said, for the first time in about five years, “Sure!”

Of course all of the farmers exclaimed over his height, and the old ladies told him how handsome he is, and he talked me into a 41 pound watermelon. Yes, we weighed it. It overfilled the passenger seat of my giant Ford Explorer.

Now, the watermelon from this morning is one of the sweetest I’ve ever had. But this watermelon salad recipe — it’s a bit of a miracle worker. It can even revive those ordinary grocery-store melons I sometimes resort to. But with a Farmer’s Market melon? Summer heaven in a bowl.

The recipe is adapted from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen, a cookbook recommended to me by one of my best friends who grew up in Georgia — and it is everything I love about modern southern cooking. Fresh, seasonal, but also nothing my grandmother and great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Procedure:

  • Combine tomatoes, watermelon, mint, basil, oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  • Before serving, sprinkle with feta, and serve.
  • Enjoy! Perfect for the 4th of July!

*Notes:

  • I like to make the color of the tomatoes and the watermelon contrast a bit, so I use yellow or multi-colored cherry or grape tomatoes when I can find them. I’ve also done this with red cherry tomatoes and a sweet yellow watermelon.
  • The original recipe calls for sherry vinegar, but upon a friend’s suggestion, I swapped balsamic and have never gone back.
  • The original recipe also calls for heirloom tomatoes, which you can certainly use. I found, though, that when ripe, these disintegrated, whereas the cherry or grape varieties retained their shape.

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