Watermelon Salad with Feta, Mint and Spiced Lemon Dressing (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Watermelon Salad with Feta, Mint and Spiced Lemon Dressing (Photo/Faith Kramer)

This summer, give watermelon a Mediterranean spin

Watermelon is a summer favorite, and it makes a great base in these two recipes — a watermelon salad with feta and mint, and a watermelon salsa served atop a salty, goat-and-sheep’s-milk cheese that has been grilled.

Enjoy either dish, or both, for summertime meals and Fourth of the July cookouts.

Watermelon has a long association with Jews. An ancestor of the fruit was popular in Egypt, and is said to be the melon that some Jews longed for during the Exodus.

Both dishes feature Mediterranean flavors. The salsa is also good over grilled chicken, fish or tofu.


Watermelon Salad with Feta, Mint and Spiced Lemon Dressing

Serves 6 to 8

Dressing

  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbs. minced preserved lemon or peeled, minced, fresh lemon (see notes)
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • ¼ tsp. salt (½ tsp. if using fresh lemon)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Salad

  • 8 cups seeded watermelon cubes (½-inch chunks)
  • ¾ cup chopped red onion
  • 1½ cups salt-cured black olives
  • 8 oz. feta cheese
  • 1 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint leaves, for serving

For dressing: Stir together curry, lemon, cayenne, salt, oil and juice. Taste. Adjust seasonings, keeping in mind that the feta and olives in the salad are salty. Let sit 20 minutes. Stir before using.

For salad: Put watermelon in a colander. Drain 10 minutes. Drink or discard juice. Combine with red onion and olives in a large bowl. Pat dry feta. Cut into ¼-inch chunks. Stir into salad.

To serve: Just before serving, toss salad with dressing and mint.

Notes: Preserved lemons are available from Middle Eastern, kosher and specialty markets. Chop preserved lemon peel and flesh together. If not available, remove peel from a small lemon and mince the flesh.


Watermelon Salsa with Grilled Halloumi

Makes 10 slices

Salsa

  • 2 cups diced seeded watermelon (¼-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup seeded, diced tomato (¼-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup diced yellow or orange bell peppers (¼-inch pieces)
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 to 2 tsp. minced jalapeño
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp. dried mint
  • ¼ tsp. sumac or 1 tsp. minced lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Grilled halloumi

  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 packs (8.8 oz. each) chilled halloumi cheese
  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • 1 cup (packed) finely chopped mint leaves and lemon wedges (for serving)

For salsa: Put watermelon and tomatoes in colander and drain 10 minutes, discarding juice. Combine in a bowl with onion, jalapeño, garlic, mint, sumac, salt, pepper and olive oil. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes before using.

For grilled halloumi: In a wide, rimmed dish, mix together garlic, salt, pepper flakes and olive oil. Cut cheese into 8 slices each about ½-inch thick. Marinate, spooning liquid over top of cheese and turning occasionally for 10 minutes.

Brush grates of a grill, indoor electric grill or a grill pan lightly with vegetable oil. Heat to medium-high. Lay cheese slices flat on hot grill and grill about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, basting with marinade occasionally, until the cheese is golden and charred with grill marks. (The cheese can also be fried in a heavy skillet.) To serve, stir mint into salsa. Squirt a little lemon juice on top of each grilled cheese slice and top with salsa. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Watermelon Salsa with Grilled Halloumi (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Watermelon Salsa with Grilled Halloumi (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at [email protected].