This might be the ultimate summer salad. I know, I know—how can someone say something so definitive about a salad when the salad in question contains only one single vegetable? In a season of garden abundance, can such a simple salad really be labeled as representative of the entire season? Well, yes.
That is, if the salad in question contains fresh, juicy chunks of watermelon, crisp slices of cucumber, cool hits of fresh mint, and tiny little squares of salty, flavorful feta cheese. On a hot day, I can’t think of anything better to eat, really. Well, aside from a nonstop conveyor belt delivery of popsicles, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more nutrition and heft, you might consider this salad.
The thing is, perfect as I think this salad is, while I was making it I kept on dreaming up other things I could do to it. I held back—mainly because I was going to be serving this salad to a crowd that contained children, and I didn’t want to completely repel anyone (though pairing watermelon with cheese certainly won me a few suspicious looks from the under-12 crowd)—but while writing down the recipe for this salad, my mind kept wandering over to thoughts of adding a diced jalapeno or serrano pepper, or maybe a light dusting of cayenne over each serving. I also think adding a bit of crumbled chèvre in lieu of the feta would be just lovely. If your garden is bursting with basil right now, a combination of basil and mint would pair nicely in here, or maybe forget the mint all together and just go with the basil. I know I just said this salad was perfect (and it really is, I swear), but I like to think that perfection doesn’t limit itself to one single incarnation. So try this salad as is, in all it’s glory, or maybe go in a slightly different direction and spice it up a bit. You can’t go wrong.
Last Year: Cherry Almond Strudel–so many flaky layers!
Watermelon, Cucumber, and Feta Salad with Mint Recipe
4 cups cubed watermelon
1 large cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, then sliced into half-moons
juice of ½ a lime
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, stacked on top of one another then cut into ribbons
4 ounces feta cheese, cut into tiny cubes
pinch of black pepper or cayenne pepper
Combine watermelon cubes and cucumber slices in a colander set over a large bowl. Refrigerate and allow watermelon to drain for at least 30 minutes. At this point, you can leave the draining watermelon and cucumber in the refrigerator for several hours if you want to prep the salad ahead of time.
Remove drained watermelon and cucumber to a serving bowl. (You can either reserve the drained watermelon juice for another purpose, or just go ahead and do what I did: drink it, because it is so very delicious.) Squeeze the lime juice over the mixture, then sprinkle on the mint, feta, and pepper. Toss gently with a large spoon. Serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 10 people.