Anthony really loves watermelon but often times we pass it up when we’re at the store unless we know we have a crowd coming over. That’s when I decided that watermelon is like a Thanksgiving turkey: good the first couple times, but you’d better have a good leftovers recipe on hand or it’s just going to sit in the fridge forever.
I have always wanted to try Nigella’s Watermelon, Feta, and Black olive salad so this time when we passed by the watermelon at the store I added it to the cart without hesitation. When I told Anthony I had a recipe for watermelon he sort of looked at me like I was crazy, but I’m used to ignoring that look by now.
I couldn’t wait to dive in but when I first sliced the melon open I admit I was disappointed. This was not the deep red flesh I was expecting. It’s only the beginning of June and this watermelon was paler and more watery than I had expected. This recipe, however, made up for that.
Another setback occurred: I had vastly underestimated the amount of feta I had in the fridge. And I had no fresh mint on hand. Drat.
But you know what? I made it with what I did have and added scant amounts of feta and it was sublime. I can only imagine how good this would have been if conditions had been ideal. This recipe comes from Nigella’s book Forever Summer, which I bought one year right before I took a trip to Half Moon Bay. Now whenever I cook from it I vividly remember standing at my aunt’s stove and slicing mangoes.
- One small red onion
- 2-4 limes, depending on juiciness
- 3 1/2 lbs watermelon
- 9 oz feta cheese
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz pitted black olives
- black pepper
- Peel and halve the red onion and slice thinly. Immediately put into a bowl with the juice of the limes. What will happen is as they soak they will tenderize, become slightly translucent, and become much less raw and sharp.
- Nigella suggests 2-4 limes because some limes don’t have a lot of juice to them. I’ve heard that rolling them on the counter or zapping very briefly in the microwave helps release their juices.
- Slice the watermelon into chunks, discarding any seeds and rind.
- My feta comes crumbled, but if yours doesn’t, crumble it now.
- Add feta and watermelon to a shallow bowl or plate and tear off chunks of parsley then add the chopped mint.
- Add the onions plus all the lime juice. Then add the olives.
- Toss with your hands very, very gently and grind black pepper over all.
I did not follow the recipe amounts to the letter and just added amounts that looked appetizing to me. The lime and oil more than made up for the mediocre melon and the combination of the sharp feta, sweet melon and rich olives was wonderful.
Anthony ate chunks of melon as I made this and looked upon the recipe with a small amount of skepticism. I offered him a plate and he devoured it in about six seconds. I’m going to keep this salad coming all through summer and can’t wait to bring it to a barbecue.