There really are tons of things you can do with a watermelon, one of which I recently discovered while cooking for a party at my mother-in-law's house. It was an impromptu get together and what I had in front of me was: a jack of hearts watermelon, some nice shallots and a velvety block of fresh feta. I knew my in-laws had fresh mint in the yard so I sent my youngest to go fetch a big handful.
All that plus a few drops of really good olive oil and I created an easy and mouthwatering salad that was devoured in no time at all. (Now I can admit I did have my fingers crossed.) I like my watermelon in small bite-size morsels but that’s up to you - certainly any size will work as long as it can fit on a fork.
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Makes about 4 generous servings or about 8 small appetizer servings
2 tablespoons 100 percent olive oil (to sauté)
6 big shallots, peeled, hard end removed, and sliced into rings
Dead-ripe (jack of hearts) watermelon, about 3 to 4 pounds, peeled, and cut into bite-size morsels
8 oz. of good feta in a block (I really like cow’s milk feta); lightly rinse it if the brine is super strong and salty; crumble it to your preference.
Fruity-tasting extra virgin olive oil
A handful of fresh mint, leaves rinsed and chiffonade* plus a few whole leaves for garnish
In a large skillet over medium heat slick the bottom of the pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When it begins to ripple add in the shallots and sauté until they become caramelized, or about 5 to 7 minutes. Move the shallots around the pan to ensure they do not burn. If the heat seems too high, reduce it to medium low. When the shallots are done, turn off the heat and set them aside.
In a large bowl combine the cooked shallots, watermelon morsels, crumbled feta, sliced mint, and about 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and gently toss everything until it is well combined. Add more olive oil if you think it needs it. It might depending on how liquid-y the watermelon is.
To serve, generously scoop out the salad, trying to keep the portions even, onto a wide and flat salad plate and top it with a few whole leaves of mint. Serve immediately.
Other fun things to add to a watermelon salad:
Grilled buttery shrimp (I just made this last night and it was awesome)
Basil instead of mint
Other citrus cubed fruit
Farro, quinoa, or even rice
Served on a bed of arugula with grilled scallops
* Chiffonade is a super fancy way of saying, roll up a few leaves together and cut them width-wise quite thin so you create long little strips.