This watermelon and cucumber salad with mache and fresh herbs is definitely a salad that you haven’t had before. It is also our official salad for the start of summer — filled with all of the fresh produce overflowing at your grocer.
I thought about calling this a summer garbage salad because there are so many ingredients and some random ones at that, but I thought that name sounded..well, like something that wasn’t appetizing, so I panned that idea. But there certainly are a ton of ingredients beyond just the watermelon and cucumber. It’s like emptying your refrigerator into that wooden bowl. You’ve got fresh green onions, dill, cilantro, olives, feta, mache and a dressing of sherry vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.
My kids still prefer plain cucumbers and watermelon. O well. But adults dove in and gave it good reviews.
So let me digress for a second on summer in the good ole burbs. The first day of summer has come and gone and the kids are full throttle into swim team, tennis, soccer, more swimming and sun burns (bad mommy for not instructing nanny to reapply sunscreen constantly to fair haired, blue eyed children!).
Given we are co-parenting and a lovely working mom and dad of two, we are not headed to the Cape, the lovely shores of Rhode Island, the Hamptons, New Hampshire or well anywhere else for that matter to spend the summer sea side with a drink in hand, nanny taking care of kids, personal trainer there for you, gardner to keep you company, etc. That is the stuff of T.V. or movies or just what neighbors have planned for the summer in the snobby suburb you live in for the really good schools (speaking purely as a hypothetical, of course).
We, on the other hand, have our one-week vacation planned and it will be awesome. But it ain’t coming until August so until then we will eek out as much as we can get by cutting out early on Fridays, working from home when we can, maximizing the weekends, enjoying the pool club, and grilling every chance we can get. We really want to work to live, but somehow we are still living to work because that is U.S. of A.
Sigh. And Sigh.
I will confess that I got inspiration for this recipe from one I saw in the most recent edition of Food & Wine for a Watermelon, feta and charred pepper salad. But unfortunately for me, I couldn’t find several of the ingredients in the salad – including the shishito peppers, the Korean chili powder and the watercress. Given that I didn’t have those key ingredients, I really wasn’t making the salad anymore at all, but something entirely different. I will not rant again about how hard it is to find shishito peppers in CT. But nothing’s changed. You can’t find them anywhere and I’m still thinking of opening my own shishito pepper farm.
Since I didn’t have any, in place of the shishito, I charred some anaheim chilis. In place of the korean chili powder, I used ancho chili powder. And the watercress got replaced with mache and more of it than originally called for. I also slightly altered the dressing. The result is the recipe below. It is eclectic, I will confess. Probably not my best salad ever conceived. Yet, I have to admit, it is pretty satisfying as a main course lunch when you are trying to diet (even if you are miserably failing at said diet). Or suitable for any summer BBQ.
One final recommendation, dress the salad gradually. The recipe makes too much dressing.But good to have extra for round 2.
- 1 pound seedless watermelon, cubed
- 2 Kirby cucumbers or one large cucumber, peeled and cut into ¾-inch dice
- 2 green onions, chopped white and green parts
- 1 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Ancho Chili Powder
- 2 tsp honey
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 anaheim chilis, chopped
- 20 pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- 1½ cups mache leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
- Combine the watermelon, cucumber and onions
- Combine the 3 tbsp olive oil with the vinegar, salt, pepper, honey and chili powder. Whisk and pour over watermelon salad.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet on high and saute chilis for 4-5 minutes until slightly charred and slightly softened.
- Transfer to bowl and toss with watermelon salad.
- Garnish salad with kalamata olives, feta, mache, cilantro, dill.
- If desired, toss before serving.