I don’ t usually post three times a week, but I made a watermelon basil salad this week and I just had to share the twist I added. I picked up a handful of little bento vegetable cutters for $4 from a hardware store in Japantown that look like the cutest, tiniest cookie cutters you’ve ever seen. I used them to cut out shapes of watermelon, canteloupe, and honeydew melon for a refreshing melon salad that impressed everyone at the table. It’s funny how I never thought to use cutters to make my salads more interesting. I think I might try this more often, and those of you with kids might find it a great inroad to getting your young’ins to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The cheese I use here in a Greek variety called Kefalotyri, a wonderfully salty cheese that squeaks when you eat it and makes watermelon nearly burst with a before-undiscovered level of sweetness. Pop! The fresh flavor consumed the entirety of my taste sensors, sending me into a euphoric state of fruity, late summer bliss. If you can’t find Kefalotyri, go ahead and use French feta (which is stronger and saltier than standard feta), regular feta, queso fresco, haloumi, or heck, even salty marinated tofu, if you’re vegan. A splash of grapeseed oil pulls it all together, but you can also use olive oil – the fruiter the oil, the better.
- 1/2 pound watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1/2 pound honeydew melon, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1/2 pound cantaloupe, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (or more, if you like your salad really tart)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 3/4 pound Kefalotyri, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or fruity olive oil
- Using these vegetables cutters or your choice of other tiny cookie cutters, cut your melon slices into as many little shapes as you can get out of each slice.
- In a large bowl toss together melon, basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Add ketalotyri or the cheese of your choice, crumbling gently with your fingers. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the salad while dribbling in the oil. Taste and add more salt, if you like. Serve chilled or at room temperature.