fresh watermelon salad

Summertime is the season of salads, if you ask me.

With produce brimming aplenty from your own garden, CSA sign-up, local farmer’s market, or if {like me} you’re lucky enough to have a neighbor who shares their harvest, it can be somewhat challenging to figure out how to best utilize this bounty. I’ve gotten pretty creative in past seasons with pickling veggies, packing shredded squash into loaves of sweet and savory breads, and making jars and jars of sauces. But there still is the question – what do you do with the herbs?

I don’t know about y’all, but my once lowly mint plant has decided to grow without abandon as of late. In all honesty, I thought that this would be the one that didn’t make it. I have an “herb pot” garden that I tend to along the sunny side of our home, simply because with time management, it’s all I can afford. I’m certainly blessed in the basil and rosemary department, but the mint this year…eh…I wasn’t so sure. Little did I know that what would once be the epitome of Tiny Tim plants turn into a raging mint monster. No lie.

Now, us at the homestead can only make so much mint simple syrup and mojitos before completely burning out on this sweet green leaf. And rather than diminishing my love for this plant, I figured that there had to be some way that we could repurpose it. The light bulb hit, right then and there – salad! I was reminded of a barbecue we hosted a few summers ago, and I served up a sweet watermelon and mint salad. Going along those same lines, I set out to recreate it, but with a few different twists and turns.

As I mentioned, I wanted to avoid any overly sweet flavors in this particular dish. Using watermelon and mint, both very sweet on their own, would sure to be an overpowering combination. Keeping that in mind, a salt element would be an important, if not necessary, addition to this dish. I recalled a photo of watermelon and feta cheese paired together, and I knew that would be perfect. A bit of a kick from coarsely ground pepper would counterbalance the salt and sweet, and finally, on somewhat of a whim, I added in a few dashes of red wine vinegar, just to help cut through all the flavors.

This salad is the perfect example of summer, and sunshine, and warm weather, all mixed up in one pretty bowl. It’s the perfect dish to whip up for any dinner party or get-together, and I promise that your guests will be wowed, both on the levels of presentation and flavor!

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Fresh Watermelon Salad 

Ingredients:

roughly 5-6 lbs. fresh watermelon, cubed into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, washed and left whole

4 to 6 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

red wine vinegar, to taste

pepper, to taste

 

To Prepare:

In a large bowl, mix together the cubed watermelon and feta cheese. Make sure to leave the feta as coarsely crumbled as possible; if stirred to aggressively, the cubes will disintegrate.

Fold in the whole mint leaves, making sure to evenly distribute.

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Season to taste with pepper {I omit any added salt in this recipe, because feta cheese by itself has such a salty and delicious flavor}. Add in several hefty dashes of red wine vinegar, to help cut through the sweetness of the fruit and brighten up the bold notes of the cheese. Store in the refrigerator, tightly covered, until ready to serve.

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Salad will keep, covered, for up to 4 days. 

colorful corn & bean salad

I’m on a veggie kick lately, y’all.

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Summer speaks to me of warm summer nights, porch sitting, fresh produce, and {if I’m being honest} minimal time spent hovering over a hot oven. There’s nothing more unfortunate than spending time in said space when you could be lounging on your porch, dining al fresco, with an easy dinner based off little or no cooking. This is where this salad comes into play.

I’m fortunate in the sense that I have several friends who actually have the time to spend crafting successful gardens, and I am the frequent benefactor of the fruits of their labors. Granted, I dabble in it – albeit slightly with tomatoes/herbs/lettuces, which is better than nothing – but I do not have the knowledge or time to give it the love it needs. Summer after summer, I find myself constantly coming up with new and inventive ways to jazz up the produce I’m blessed to accept.

I’ve played with preserving and jarring pickles, canning my own tomato sauce, and preserving fruits in the form of delicious jams and jellies. But, it’s so hard to not want to eat up each and every bit of produce as soon as we possibly can. So when a bunch of fresh corn, peppers, and jalepenos showed up on my door step, this salad was born.

I’m not even sure if it’s fair to call this a true “recipe” even. I’ve mentioned before that a lot of my summer cooking is spent on a wing and a prayer, and this was one of those. As I was measuring and stirring, I had the hubs write it down for me so I could share it here with y’all. As as I am constantly mentioning, feel free to play around with this! So far, we’ve served it on top of salads, inside of quesadillas, and even just set out as a salsa for dipping in my fresh chips. I think it would make a wonderful topping for fresh cod, or stirred into sauteed veggies. I wouldn’t be surprised if I spooned it on top of a pizza someday…

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Colorful Corn & Bean Salad {original recipe, serves 6-8}

Ingredients:

4 ears fresh corn {hulled of its skin} and trimmed off so only the kernels remain

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1 green bell pepper, diced

up to 1 whole jalepeño, seeds removed {if desired} and finely grated

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Add fresh corn into the bottom of a large, wide-mouthed mixing bowl {I like to use my largest stainless steel one). Add in both beans, the tomatoes, and the green peppers. Stir to combine.

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Grate in the fresh jalepeño, and mix well. Drizzle in the olive oil and lime juice, stirring to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes and allow the flavors to merry while we assemble the spice mixture.

Combine all seasonings in a small bowl, making sure to evenly distribute them {we don’t want any clumps of cumin, or hot spots of cayenne}.

Sprinkle evenly over the corn/tomato/bean mixture, and stir well. Store in an airtight container, or several smaller Mason jars {for easy transport and serving}. Salad will keep well in the fridge for several days.

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