In my head, the end of the summer is synonymous with melon season at the market. Cantaloupes, honeydew, and even the less-well-known canary melon can all be found at Central Farm Markets. Of course you can also find the most popular and iconic melon of the season, Watermelon. Watermelons remind us all of hot August days, swimming pools and BBQs. That’s why I decided to elevate this sweet, summer fruit and turn it into a savory salad, perfect for those hot summer nights under the stars.
The watermelons that I grew up with didn’t have seeds. We got them at a grocery store, they were huge, and all you had to do was cut them up and eat the fruit. Farm market watermelons are different. They generally have seeds (although some vendors sell seedless) and are a bit smaller than generic watermelons. I know what you’re probably thinking – why would I want a watermelon with seeds when I can just as easily get one without and not have to go through the arduous process of removing them? Well, truly find that watermelons with seeds taste better. They have a sweet, rich flavor that I find seedless watermelons lack, which is why I used a watermelon with seeds for this recipe. The extra five minutes of effort it takes to remove the majority of the seeds is completely worth the delicious end product.
You’ll notice I’ve added a piece of fish to this dish. I could have just as easily created this recipe of the salad alone, but I really liked the idea of pairing it with a fresh fish, like halibut. I chose halibut because it is meatier and heartier than other white fish. I thought that would stand up very well to the light, fresh flavors of the salad. If you’re not a fan of Halibut, check out Lobster Maine-ia at any of the markets. Their staff are total fish experts and they can easily recommend the correct fillet to match this or any dish you want to create. But I would really go with Halibut for this one…
Some other important ingredients to note in this recipe: the red onion is essential here. I’ve heard quite a few people tell me that they don’t appreciate raw red onion as much as I do. I understand – it’s definitely got a spicy, bitter taste but there is a trick to combat that. Slice your onion and rinse it under cold water. Squeeze out the water and voila, not so spicy! I always tell people that the fresher onions are, the easier it is to get that delicious taste from them.
Also, know when to use red onions! They work perfectly with this salad to balance all of the sweetness from the watermelon. I considered using one of the delicious-looking sweet white onions I saw at the Westmoreland Produce stand, but I needed something that would counteract the already bold flavor of the watermelon. Thus, red onion was added to this recipe.
Last but least, I topped the salad with feta cheese. It works so well in this recipe. Watermelon and feta are found together in many different salad recipes. In this recipe particularly, there is something about the brininess of the feta that blends perfectly with the sweet watermelon, grassy basil, and spicy red onion. I do not recommend making this salad without the feta. That being said, here is the recipe:
Watermelon Feta Salad with Broiled Halibut
This recipe is for an entire watermelon. It serves about 4-6, depending on the serving size.
- 4-6 servings of Halibut (Lobster Maine-ia)
- 1 Small Watermelon (Spiral Path Farm)
- 2 Medium Cucumbers (Mock’s Greenhouse)
- 2 Large Red Onion (Westmoreland Produce)
- 10-12 Leaves Basil (Spiral Path Farm)
- 1 Container Feta Cheese (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
- 4 Tbsp. Spring Onion Vinaigrette (Two Acre Farm)
Set oven to broil. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper on all sides of the fish. Place on a sheet pan and broil in the oven until fish is done. This will depend on the size and thickness of the fish. Generally, about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the salad. Cut the watermelon into cubes. Remove the seeds as much as possible. There may be some left over pieces with many seeds. I like to press these pieces and make watermelon juice (I don’t let anything go to waste in my kitchen, if I can help it).
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the green part of the cucumbers. Starting on one side and turning the cucumber with each peel, make ribbons. Do this until you reach the seeded part. (You can juice this part, too, or just eat it as a snack).
Peel the red onion and cut it in half. Using a mandolin, or a very sharp knife, slice the onion very thin.
Stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll into a log, and finely slice.
Combine the watermelon, cucumber ribbons, red onion, and basil in a large bowl. Crumble about 3⁄4 of the feta over the salad. Alternatively, use as much or as little as you desire. Add the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Plate the salad next to the Halibut. Enjoy!!!