Watermelon caramelizes ever so slightly when it's briefly grilled -- who knew? This is a popular salad at Cafe Panache in Ashburn.
The dressed watermelon, onion, cheese and olive mixture needs an hour in the refrigerator to let its flavors blend. It's best to compose the salads on individual plates just before serving.
- 2 large slices seedless watermelon, about 1 1/2 inches thick (cut from the center)
- 1 medium red onion, cut into very thin strips (julienne)
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 to 16 ounces baby or tender spinach, stemmed, washed and dried
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves, for garnish
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves, for garnish
Prepare the grill. If using a gas grill, heat it to medium. If using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat. Oil the grate.
Grill the watermelon slices for 2 minutes, then turn over and grill for 2 minutes, until slightly caramelized on both sides. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for about 10 minutes, until slightly chilled.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, feta cheese and olives in a medium mixing bowl.
Cut the chilled watermelon into 1 1/2-inch cubes (discarding the rind), then add to the bowl, tossing lightly to combine.
Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a small bowl; add the salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the ingredients in the bowl, tossing to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours to marinate.
To serve, divide the spinach among individual plates. Spoon the watermelon mixture over the spinach, reserving some of the vinaigrette to drizzle on the plate. Sprinkle basil and mint to taste on each salad and serve immediately.
Adapted from chef Jeff Galkin.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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