These are the dog days of summer and at 91 degrees, the last thing I am about to do – even with central air conditioning – is cook. However, we still want to eat and this salad is refreshing and simple to make. All it really needs is some good pita or naan, a glass of refreshing wine and you can dine well without ever breaking a sweat. Fresh, high quality ingredients are key here. You are not masking anything with some slow-cooked sauce and it must be aesthetically pleasing as well. While I highly recommend making the effort to find watercress, which has a distinctive flavor, you can make this successfully with only arugula, which might be more easily accessible. This salad cools you down in a flash. We may even decide to eat out on our terrace tonight.
Watercress Salad with Watermelon, Feta Cheese and Mint Dressing
Yields: 4 servings
Half of a seedless watermelon, halved and then sliced, with the rind removed
8 ounces of a full-fat feta cheese block, cut into thin slabs
3 cups of arugula
2-3 cups of watercress
2/3 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves, with about 10 leaves saved for garnish
2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 2 fresh lemons
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup fruity olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sumac, optional
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
- When ready to serve, arrange the greens on a platter.
- Make the mint vinaigrette by placing all of the ingredients for the dressing, except for the EVOO in a blender. Puree until smooth.
- With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the EVOO and process until emulsified.
- Toss the greens with a few tablespoonfuls of the dressing. Do not drown the greens! Any extra dressing can be stored in the fridge for several days in a glass jar.
- In a way that looks attractive (there is no ONE right way!) layer your watermelon slices over the greens. On top of the watermelon, lay thin slabs of feta cheese. Drizzle some more of the vinaigrette over the top and scatter the fresh, whole mint leaves over that. Voila! (Hopefully your watermelon will be redder and sweeter than this particular watermelon of mine was.)