Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Watermelon Salad "Pizza"

Several months ago I came across a little piece online somewhere that showed a watermelon pizza. It immediately caught my eye, but I was disappointed because it was really just a fruit salad on a slice of watermelon. Interesting, but it was fruit salad. But the concept stuck with me and what I realized was that I wanted it to be a savory watermelon pizza.

Watermelon salad is one of my favorite dishes this time of year as the temps start to climb. One of my all time most enjoyable versions is Matt Gordon's at Urban Solace. Every bite is different, filled with cherry tomatoes and arugula, feta and currants, toasted pine nuts and cucumbers. And it's tossed with a sweet vinaigrette.

So, I've been waiting for the seasons to change so that I could translate this concept in my head to a dish and today I finally did it. I gathered a baby watermelon, cherry tomatoes, a hot house cucumber (Japanese or Persian--all with no seeds--will do as well), an onion, pine nuts, kalamata olives, arugula, currants, and goat cheese.

I also went out to my little garden and nabbed some a couple of stems of my treasured mojito mint (it's a little less astringent than peppermint or spearmint) and basil. This is a "pesto perpetuo" variety of basil, which grows as a perennial.

With these herbs, along with white wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper, I made a vinaigrette.

Basil Mint Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together all the ingredients except the olive oil. Then slowly whisk in the oil until all the ingredients are blended together and the dressing emulsifies.

With that done, I sliced what needed slicing and put the "pizza" together.

Slice the watermelon about an inch thick and place on a flat surface, then start layering.

First add slices of cucumber.

Then come the tomatoes. If you can find heirloom cherry tomatoes you'll get even more color--and flavor.

Next come sliced kalamata olives and onion. I like a sweet white onion, like this, or red onion.

Goat cheese can be difficult to work with, so I use a small melon baller.

Finally, I scatter the top with currants and toasted pine nuts. Make a bed with the arugula and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Then quarter the slice.

You can serve quarters as an appetizer or a whole slice as a lunch, accompanied with some crusty bread or biscuits.

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