For this refreshing salad, Johnny Monis likes to use Dodonis feta cheese, which is creamier and milder than traditional sheep's milk Greek feta cheese. Cut the pieces of watermelon from the sweet center. Monis makes a presentation of this dish, but the size of the watermelon and feta cheese pieces need not be precise. For the optional balsamic vinegar, make it the best quality you can afford.
*Note: Dodonis feta cheese is available at some Greek and Middle Eastern specialty stores, including Aphrodite in Falls Church, Maria's Greek Corner in Vienna, Shemali's in Northwest Washington and Thomas Market in Wheaton. It also can be special-ordered at Harris Teeter stores.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups loosely packed wild arugula
- 1/4 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
- 4 pieces seedless watermelon, cut into rectangular blocks 2 inches wide, 1 inch high, 6 inches long
- 4 pieces feta cheese, preferably Dodonis, cut slightly smaller than the watermelon pieces*
- 2 tablespoons crushed toasted hazelnuts (optional)
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and the vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a medium bowl, combine the arugula and fennel and toss with a drizzle of the olive oil mixture and some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
To serve, place the watermelon pieces on 4 separate plates. Drizzle some of the olive oil mixture over the watermelon and sprinkle it with sea salt. Place the feta cheese pieces on top, followed by another drizzle of the olive oil mixture. Top with mounds of the dressed arugula-fennel mixture. Drizzle with more olive oil, a few pinches of salt, and, if desired, the crushed hazelnuts and droplets of balsamic vinegar.
Adapted from Johnny Monis of Komi.
Tested by Leigh Lambert.
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