Help Beat the Heat with This Easy-To-Make Watermelon Salad

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

In the summertime, when it comes to food, less is more.  Shorter recipes, lighter ingredients, smaller portions.  When you seek the shade, start thinking about what cools you off. A glass of lemonade? A chilled-like-the-arctic lager? A scoop of ice cream in a cone that you have to eat in record time before it coats your hand?

What about the summer BBQ and picnic favorite, something that you can slice, dice, cut into wedges, or blend into a cool, refreshing, and hydrating drink?

You know what it is…watermelon!

I find watermelon so thirst-quenching and satisfying that I look for ways to use it beyond the ubiquitous triangle. When I found this recipe from kitchen denizen Martha Stewart, I knew I had to try it.  So simple, it’s barely a recipe.  Cut and combine, season, and sprinkle, the ingredients are everyday fare.

There are only four main ingredients to this salad: watermelon, lime juice, basil, and feta cheese. On this simple canvas feel free to add other flavors. If you like the bite of onion then thinly slice red onion and toss it into the mix.  The lime juice gives it plenty of tang but if you miss a fatty component drizzle in a little olive oil. I love basil – it screams “summer!” to me – but if you prefer mint feel free to include or substitute with it.

You may not like feta cheese. (I can’t understand you if so!) But in all seriousness, omit it if you can’t take the flavor.  Ricotta is a milder cheese and may suit your palate better, or just leave it out. But if you do use cheese take The Kitchn’s Sara Tane’s advice and follow Martha’s technique and sprinkle the cheese on top AFTER  you have combined all the other ingredients. That way you avoid the cheese creating a white film over the other ingredients.  And if you like greens then serve the watermelon mix on top of arugula.

As the name suggests, watermelon is full of water, so is perfect for rehydrating the body on a hot day.  It’s also full of the antioxidant lycopene, easy to digest and contains a heart-healthy amino acid called citrulline that can help lower blood pressure, according to WebMD. Plus, it’s fat-free, cholesterol-free, and has no sodium. The recipe does call for salt, and this is to balance the other flavors.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon (rind removed), cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (see note)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, broken into large pieces (about 1 cup)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine watermelon, lime juice, and half the basil.
  2. Season watermelon with salt and pepper. Try not to overseason.
  3. Toss to combine.
  4. Divide among four plates; scatter the cheese and remaining basil on top.
  5. Pour yourself a glass of something spritzy to have alongside the salad and enjoy!

NOTE

The easiest way to cut the basil for this recipe is to take a few basil leaves and stack them. Then roll them into a tight cylinder.  Using a sharp knife, slice crosswise into thin ribbon-like strips.

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