Serves: 6 to 8 (halve for a smaller group)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
I bumped into a good-looking watermelon at the farmers’ market on Sunday. One of those seedless, perfectly round mini ones. I wasn’t looking for it — I wasn’t looking for love — but there it was and I had to have it. In the bin next door were late-season tomatoes so I picked up a few of those, too. I had read a suggestion in the Wall St. Journal that the secret to a good watermelon salad is tomatoes and I had to find out if it was true.
Because in general I don’t like watermelon salads. They’re too popular, too trendy. But we have had a friggin’ heat wave for 10 days in San Francisco and I needed something crunchy and cool and the watermelon was so cute…
I’ll cut to the end of the story. Tomatoes + watermelon = ecstasy. The fruit we think of as a vegetable (tomato) creates the perfect sweet-savory bridge to an otherwise predictable salad. Top it off with crunchy, salty elements and the whole thing is insanely delicious. Arrange it thoughtfully on the plate and it’s beautiful. And forgiving. The amounts I’m giving here are guidelines; feel free to fool around, even if you are as in love with this as I am.
1 mini seedless watermelon
4 medium heirloom tomatoes
1 cup tiny cherry tomatoes
coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
6 to 8 basil leaves
Cut the watermelon into large chunks and remove peel. Slice watermelon pieces into thin wedges. Tile the bottom of a serving plate or platter with the watermelon.
Core the tomatoes and cut them into wedges or half-moon slices. Cut each cherry tomato in half. Arrange the tomatoes over the watermelon. Squeeze the juice of half the lime over the fruit then sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Taste a bite of watermelon and tomato – if it needs more punch, squeeze over the rest of the lime and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
Scatter the feta and cashews on top then tear the basil leaves into pieces and strew over the whole thing. Serve immediately.