When I was a kid, we ate watermelon cut into big wedges for dessert. We had as much fun picking away the black seeds with our forks (and our fingers) as we did eating the sweet, summer fruit. My father sprinkled black pepper on his wedge, which I thought was exotic. Not so today. Watermelon salads are all the rage, made with seedless ( ! ) watermelons even.
Some watermelon salad recipes call for dousing the fruit with vinaigrette, but to my mind, watermelon is meant to be refreshing, not heavy and certainly not greasy. I prefer the approach taken by Yotam Ottolenghi in his delightful cookbook, “Plenty.” He uses feta cheese, and he is judicious with his use of olive oil, preferring to very lightly drizzle the salad just before serving. I spray my salad with an olive oil spritzer, which delivers about one teaspoon of oil to the surface of the fruit rather than saturating it with a heavier vinaigrette.
Making watermelon salad is about as easy as serving it plain. All you have to do after slicing your watermelon is to crumble on some feta cheese and either spritz or sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil. Top with torn mint or basil leaves and freshly cracked black pepper. Some people like to add some coarse kosher salt as well. For onion lovers, thinly sliced red onion is good too.
Way back when, I wasn’t so sure about my dad’s addition of black pepper, but now I think he was probably a bonafide foodie-before-his-time.
4 cups watermelon cut into bite-sized chunks 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled 1 tsp. olive oil Mint and basil leaves, chopped Freshly ground black pepper
Serves 4 Each one-cup serving: