Watermelon: off of the rind and onto your plate.
Nothing screams warm weather quite like watermelon. And while it’s enough to enjoy the fruit in its simplest form, it’d be a shame not to explore watermelon’s versatility.
The juxtaposition of the flavors in watermelon salad is really what makes it so special – not because of the thrill offered by a quirky combination, but because the pairing of these contrasting characters actually works. The sweetness of the watermelon brings a summer overtone of lightness to the otherwise grounding and earthiness of the tomatoes, onion, and goat cheese – to say nothing of the refreshing effects of fresh mint leaves! Combined with apple cider vinaigrette, the salad gets yet another whiff of fruity goodness, averting any suspicions of a train wreck and coming together as a decidedly balanced dish, each ingredient enhancing the flavor of the other. For this reason, variations of this watermelon salad are breaching “summer staple” status.
Do not be fooled by watermelon’s 92-percent water content. There is more to the fruit than thirst-quenching, poolside goodness. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, ad B6, maintaining eye health, strengthening immunity and promoting brain function, respectively. It is also a great source of cancer-fighting lycopene, an antioxidant we often hear about with regards to tomatoes and of which watermelon has the highest concentrations among all fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also a great source of potassium, which contributes to healthy muscles and nerve functions, and the heart-healthy amino acids citrulline and arginine.
And – I plead – don’t chuck the rinds! They are packed with nutritional benefits. Hide them in your favorite fruit juice or chop and sauté them into a stir fry or stew. Experiment until you find a way that makes them palatable to you. As for the pink part, I’ve got you covered:
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Salad:
3 cups watermelon, seeded and chopped
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 red onion
Handful of fresh mint leaves
In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Chop the watermelon, removing any seeds, chop the cherry tomatoes, and cut the onion from stem to bud into thin slices.
Combine the salad ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately or let sit for at least a half hour in order to let the flavors intensify.
Before serving, garnish with chopped mint leaves and pieced goat cheese. The vinaigrette wilts the mint leaves and thins and spreads the goat cheese, so I like to add them last to ensure that they are robust and distinct upon serving.
Serve and enjoy!
Aylin Erman currently resides in Istanbul and is creator of plant-based recipe website GlowKitchen.