by Damon Lee Fowler
author of Beans, Greens and
Sweet Georgia Peaches
If there is anything more satisfying or cooling on a hot summer day than a thick wedge of chilled watermelon, I've never found it. It's a fixture at virtually any outdoor event in the South from late June well into September. The genteel eat it with a knife and a fork, but children happily bury their faces in it, and I'm not sure they don't have the best idea.
Occasionally, a host will cut a plug out of the melon and pump it full of rum, but don't count me as a fan; I think the harsh taste of alcohol does not do the clean, sweet flavor of this melon any favors.
Here, watermelon gives up its usual place at the table as a fruit and goes to work in a role that its cousin, the cucumber, usually occupies. The melon is a lovely foil for the salty feta, spicy onion, and tart vinegar. It makes a refreshing and unusual salad for any summer brunch, luncheon, or dinner.
1/2 small watermelon, about 5 pounds
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper in a peppermill
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
6 whole sprigs mint, for garnish
1. Cut the inner flesh from the melon and cut it into bite-sized pieces, removing and discarding the seeds as you go. Set aside. Peel and slice the onion into thin rings. Set aside.
2. Put the vinegar in a bowl and add a large pinch of salt, a few liberal grindings of pepper, and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the oil a few drops at a time. Stir in the chopped mint, taste and correct the seasonings, and set aside.
3. Combine the melon, onion, and feta in a bowl, pour the dressing over them, and toss gently until they are coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with the sprigs of mint or divide the salad among individual salad plates and garnish each serving. Serve at once.
Beans, Greens and Sweet Georgia Peaches:
The Southern Way of Cooking Fruits and Vegetables
by Damon Fowler
Broadway Books, 1998; $17.50
Reprinted by permission.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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