Ah! The Thursday before a three-day weekend is a special kind of Thursday, isn’t it? It’s a luxurious feeling Thursday. Despite the rain-that-never-ends, I have an extra dose of patience (snort) and an extra measure of indulgence. And to celebrate the indulgent feeling, I whipped up a fancy-pants lunch for myself. I made a gorgeous pink, girlified Watermelon Feta Salad. The boys looked at me askance as I ooed and ahhed over my dish. I vaguely remember asking them at some point whether anyone wanted a bite. They all scattered like bowling pins.*
*I should be more specific. I mean to say they scattered like bowling pins do when someone other than me is bowling. I am horrible at bowling. I do not joke or exaggerate in the least when I tell you that the last time I went bowling, I bowled a ’12’. I was pregnant for my first child, wearing business clothes and refused to put those shoes *OH THE GERMS* on over my pantyhose. That might account for something. And it’s been years… (The fact that I was wearing pantyhose should be a dead giveaway. The last time I wore those and business clothes was before my eldest was born.) Maybe I’m not so awful anymore, but I’m sure not wasting my luxury weekend finding out…
Back to my girl food. I could’ve made more of an effort to share with the boys. All I have to do to get the eldest three to try it is call it ‘gourmet’ and they’re on it like fleas on a dog. But you know what? I didn’t really feel like sharing today. This was mine. All mine. So I made it into exactly what I wanted without a thought about anyone else’s tastes. Sometimes you just have to do that, you know…
Have you ever had watermelon and feta cheese together? There’s a special kind of alchemy that occurs when you put the sweet, juicy, cold watermelon with the creamy, salty feta cheese. And you can put those two things together with some cracked black pepper and call it a day. But since I was indulging (There’s that word again. I’m sorry, but I do this so infrequently that I haven’t developed a great vocabulary to describe it.) I went whole hog, great guns, damn-the-torpedos-full-speed-ahead and threw the works at it. I layered impossibly cute slices of watermelon and homemade feta cheese on a bed of baby arugula, squeezed a little fresh lime juice and drizzled the tiniest bit of balsamic vinegar and first press extra virgin olive oil over the top. I brushed my hair, put on mascara and lip gloss and sat with perfect posture at the table all by myself. It tasted out of this world. And you know what else?
Dang. It. Felt. Great.
As I was finishing off the last bite, one boy darted between my legs chasing the dog who, despite being fat and lazy, can really kick out the jams when threatened with grooming while another boy ‘accidentally’ bounced a beany-baby soccer ball off of the back of my head. The interlude was over. But for one brief, shining moment, I was footloose and fancy free with my hoity-toity lunch.
Today’s Watermelon Feta Salad, in addition to being a brief escape to dream-land, was the perfect food for Think Pink Thursday. To refresh your memory, I’m posting pink foods on Thursdays in my effort, paltry as it may be, to remind folks of the importance of early detection of breast cancer. My step-Mom, and sometimes partner-in-crime on this website, Valerie, was diagnosed about one month ago with breast cancer after finding a lump during a self check. It’s crucial and vital if you love people or have people who love you to remember to do a self-check monthly. If you don’t know how to perform a self-exam on your breasts, visit here, here or here among other places. And a reminder to my male readers, because I have faith that there are at least a couple out there: Please encourage the women you love to do self-exams. If you don’t know how to do it or are too embarassed to use the words to explain why it’s crucial, simply forward the link to this recipe to them.
Once again, back to my girl food. Watermelon Feta Salad, in addition to being the embodiment of umami, fits the Holy Trimverate of ‘girl food’ distinction.
- It’s healthy.
- It’s pretty.
- It’s delicious.
Don’t let the girl food nature of it stop you from serving it to a passel of men. They might look at you funny, but as soon as they take a bite, they’ll love you forever. Well, as long as you serve it with a big, bloody steak or tell them something like, “It was General George S. Patton’s favorite salad.”
For a photo-free, printer friendly version of this recipe, click here!
Watermelon Feta Salad
You won’t need the whole block of feta cheese or the whole watermelon… just take as much of each as you need for the number of mouths you’re serving. For myself, I used about 3 ounces of feta cheese and 1/8 of a seedless watermelon. What?!? I was hungry.
- a block of plain feta cheese, blotted dry
- a seedless watermelon
- cracked black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- fresh lime
- cleaned baby arugula (or other peppery greens)
Begin by cutting your feta cheese block lengthwise into thin slices. See the feta below? It’s homemade. You can still see the patterns left by the cheesecloth on the thin edges… You’re under no obligation to use homemade feta here. (Like my word would obligate you anyway *snort*…) It’s every bit as good made with purchased feta cheese.
Now you’re going to want to dismantle your watermelon. There really is no wrong or right way to do this, other than perhaps throwing the watermelon in the air and trying to slice through it in midflight; which still wouldn’t necessarily be as wrong as it would be foolish. The goal is basically to remove a chunk of the watermelon safely. I usually lob off one end of a long, seedless watermelon. And, for Pete’s sake (whoever and wherever Pete may be), please make sure both your cutting board and your watermelon aren’t sliding around all arsey versey. You want that thing to hold still while you’re taking a sharp knife to it!
After I get one end off, I lay the flat, stable cut side down on the cutting board and cut it into a more manageable piece.
Now I take one of those more manageably sized wedges and use a mid-sized, sharp knife to slice the watermelon flesh away from the rind. I do this by starting with shallow cuts along the contours of the inside of the melon rind and gradually slicing deeper and deeper into the melon instead of lobbing away half the flesh with the rind. Do it however works best for you. This is just the method that floats my peculiar and particular boat.
…Ain’t it perty?
Here’s where I usually take the big knife and slice the watermelon into flat, slab-like pieces that are about 1/2″ thick. Again, you can adjust up or down depending on how much you love watermelon.
And now for assembly: Begin by putting a nice handful of clean arugula or other salad greens on each serving plate. Top it with a slice of feta.
Top the feta with a pretty, pink, juicy slice of watermelon. Oh, watermelon. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height that my soul can reach.
Top the watermelon with another slice of feta and grind some serious pepper on it. I mean that! It’s really hard to overdo it on the pepper here. Unless, of course, you hate pepper. Then you can just forget I said that. Moving on…
Now, repeat those layers twice more. Or more if you’re an engineer. Me? I was just hungry so three layers of watermelon was plenty for me!
Squeeze a wedge of lime over each serving. In my case the limes I got were really tiny, so I squeezed half a lime over my serving.
This is what I call gilding the lily. Drizzle the greens with a wee bit of balsamic. I didn’t measure it, but if you pressed me, I’d tell you about 3/4 of a teaspoon over the greens. And drizzle a slightly more generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the whole thing. Use the good stuff here if you have it and if you don’t? Don’t sweat it! Just use extra virgin olive oil.
…Once just isn’t enough. Look at that again.
And before I ate it, I dropped a little piece of infant arugula on top and drizzled it once more with extra virgin olive oil. It’s good for your skin, you know. This whole dish is practically a health cocktail.
Oh yes. Oh my, yes. This was just what the doctor ordered. I may have to indulge more often!
A couple of years ago, I was wandering around in New York during one of its famously steamy, impossibly hot summer days. It had been a particularly aggravating morning (long story) and my nerves were frayed, my feet were sore, and I was tired and sticky all over. I passed by a little restaurant (Danal, in the West Village) I had been to once or twice before and enjoyed, and decided to give myself a little treat.
Normally, I’m not much of a salad person, preferring more substantial food. But on this day that’s all I wanted. Craved. Needed.
The waiter told me of a special watermelon salad they were serving that day. Intrigued, I ordered it. A few minutes later I was presented with a bowl of salad that, if it didn’t dave my life, at least restored it along with my faith in humanity!
It consisted of watermelon, arugula, tomato, slivered almonds and creamy goat cheese (I think it was Montachet) tossed simply with red wine vinegar and grape seed oil, salt and black pepper. Oh, Lord, was it perfect. There was not a millimeter of my mouth that did come to attention. Sweet, salty, bitter, peppery, crunchy, earthy, creamy; you name it, it was there.
I have since made it for myself several times, and served it at large family gatherings (to raves and demands for the recipe). It has always been intensely enjoyable. But it will never be quite as good as that first time, the day it it restored my sanity.
Amy- Communist. (Well, maybe just socialist since you’re considering trying it…)
I’ve never cared for watermelon (so un-American, I know), but I LOVE feta and balsamic. You have me intrigued. Maybe I’ll reconsider and try it again.
April- I feel exactly the same way!
Maris- It’s a salty/sweet experience. It definitely made me happy.
Jaden- Thank you, lady! It WAS fan-flippin-tastic.
Jyoti- Welcome. And thank you!
LilSis- Please let me know how you like it!
This looks better than the Watermelon Feta Salad that I just posted about from Food Network. I’m going to try this one!
Wow… this looks awesome… mouthwatering. I am only checking your second recipe, so expect more comments soon :). Your photos are really good.
now THAT looks fan-flippin-tastic.
I would love to try this salad. I’ve never had it but since I love all of the ingredients I see no reason not to like it!
I love pretty food! It makes a meal more of an experience!