Monday, September 7, 2009

Watermelon, Dressed Up

I can’t believe it’s the end of summer already. A week ago, it was warm, sunny, and humid, and this week has been gray, chill, and rainy. What happened to easy transitions?? Oh, DC and your strange and moody weather conditions! I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to you, but at least you keep me on my toes.

I also can’t get my mind around the fact that I have, as of this past weekend, been in D.C. for an entire year. I can write on and on about how the past 52 weeks have shaped and changed me, but what I really want to talk about before it gets any colder, is watermelon.

I’m nearly convinced that no fruit is as summery as watermelon, and, for that reason alone, we need to discuss this for a hot minute before the leaves change and Fall is in full swing. You still have at least a few weeks to make this before watermelons disappear from the markets, and it’s an ace to keep in your back pocket for years to come.

Being from Arizona, we had our fair share of watermelon since it seemed to be in season for what seemed like half the year. I could kick myself now for all the times that I missed eating it in my new favorite way, cause really, once you go where I’m about to direct you, few ever find their way back to eating straight up watermelon again. Unless you’re a purist, which… I can do nothing for you. Anyway,I love this salad. Watermelon Salad, to be exact. And boy, did I get a hefty introduction to it.

About a year and a half ago, I had the great luck to go to a special Top Chef demonstration with Richard from season 4 and Betty from season 2 serving as his sous chef. I personally was hoping for Sam from season 2 as he is a total dreamboat, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I somehow scored a seat in the front row and while chatting up the audience, Richard whipped up some lamb shanks, made bacon maple ice cream (!) using dry ice and no ice cream machine because Richard is awesome and just does stuff like that, I guess. Then, he made Watermelon Salad, using cilantro, 4 kinds of onions, yuzu juice, mint, and cubed watermelon, and I was elated to find that my typical apathy to watermelon was suddenly ooomphed up and I was in watermelon heaven.

From new year, new food

I tried recreating the recipe a few times with other recipes I found online, none of which really captured the essence of what I thought Watermelon Salad should be: cool, slightly tangy, slightly salty, and just…interesting. After a few months of searching, Roni and I discovered a great Watermelon Salad recipe in Nigella Lawson’s book, Forever Summer. And hooo-eee is it easy compared to Richard’s version, but just as good. Better, probably, because it combines even more of my favorite things, like lime juice and kalamata olives and feta and pine nuts. Joy!

From new year, new food

It sounds weird. I know. But trust is key here. If you don’t like olives, just take them out. I’ve always been a lover of sweet-salty-sour combos, and this might be the winner. The watermelon is sweet and chilled, with a tang from the simple dressing of lime juice, and with a freshness from the mint, the saltiness from the olives and feta… the salad is the bomb and truly does belong in a cookbook entitled Forever Summer.

From new year, new food

I crave this salad on a regular basis, because really… a week going by without this, especially during summer watermelon season, is just the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s basically reflective of the fun and uniqueness that is Nigella Lawson, just in watermelon form, and while I’ve never been there, I love how Nigella ends the recipe instructions with this exclamation: “Hava Negila! The taste of Tel Aviv sunshine!”

1 comment:

DC said...

You had me at watermelon, feta and olives...