a farewell to summer: minty watermelon & feta appetizer

watermelon & heirloom tomatoes with feta cheese

watermelon appetizer

i’ve finally accepted the fact that my beloved summer is “officially” over, but it’s hotter than (the actual) summer (which was rather cool) right now, and there’s still plenty of good juicy watermelons all over the local markets. in fact, if i ignore the calendar, the shorter days, the slight chill to the morning air, and the schools in session all over the place, i can totally pretend we’re still in the middle of july or august. that’s why i served this cool, light, and colorful (let’s face it, summery) dish as an appetizer a few nights ago. it’s a new take on one of my favorite salads, minus the cucumbers, and reconstructed. deeeelicious!! better make some before our pretend summer is over!

  • watermelon, sliced and cut into the same sized squares
  • lots of fresh mint
  • heirloom tomatoes, sliced to the same thickness as the watermelon
  • french feta cheese
  • drizzle with (right before serving): extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeeze of lemon juice, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, 1/2 tsp raw honey (whisked together).

could this be any easier??

watermelon and feta cheese

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summer watermelon salad with feta cheese and mint

it sure feels like summer in San Diego-and this watermelon salad recipe is perfect for a H-O-T summer day! when i think of the backyard dinners of my childhood, there are a few things that stand out in my mind…the (somehow soothing) smell of burning insect repellent, bowls of summer fruits (always), sliced persian cucumbers served with salt, feta cheese, fresh herbs, warm flatbread fresh from the bakery (noonvayi), and often, sliced cold watermelon. my grandpa used to painstakingly choose them at the store (or from the street vendors that piled them high on the back of their trucks), then throw them in to the pool (that was filled weekly with freezing cold well water) to cool down before he ceremoniously cut them open hoping to find the perfect one that was deep red, sweet, and crisp inside. every time i taste this salad, it takes me back (home) to those wonderful warm summer nights spent outdoors. it combines many of the ever present ingredients i remember all in one dish. it’s hard to believe the natural flavor harmony between the sweet watermelon and salty feta cheese-this is quintessentially a summer salad, and demands one of those perfect watermelons my grandfather was always looking for. nooshe-jaan (bon appetit)!

ingredients:

1/2 of a small or 1/4 of a larger (red ripe sweet) watermelon-cubed
3-4 persian cucumbers, peeled and cut in half, then quartered
1/4-1/2 cup french feta cheese, crumbled (big pieces)
about 5-6 sprigs of fresh mint *you can substitute basil or flat leaf parsley*
for the dressing:
1/2 of a small shallot, very finely chopped
1-2 limes-(some) zest and juice
sea salt & pepper to taste
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp raw honey (optional)
-whisk together until thickened

assemble the cubed (cold) watermelon, cold cucumbers, feta cheese and mint in a bowl starting with watermelon at the bottom. drizzle with the dressing and toss just before you serve.

“sangak” (flat) bread baking in the oven over hot rocks
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