chicken enchilada casserole

I have an unabashed love for Mexican food. But who doesn’t?

For the hubs and I, we get our Mexican fix from several different local joints around town – we have a place for excellent margaritas and good food, a place for good margaritas and amazing food, and a place for amazing margaritas and amazing fish tacos. Depending on our hunger {or thirst} cues, one of said places often makes the cut.

But what does one do when you’re craving enchilada casserole?

IMG_0290 IMG_0291

I can’t remember what struck that particular chord in me not long ago, but I had such an intense craving for an enchilada-style casserole that I just could not shake it. So imagine my surprise when this recipe found its way, seemingly right into my hands, not long ago! I immediately bookmarked it and knew that it would make a dinner appearance as soon as I could make it happen.

Luckily, a week-long deluge of rain {followed by an equally rainy weekend} presented the perfect opportunity. A wet Sunday afternoon set the tone for dinner, and yes…it was time for me to make this. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work, happily bumping around my tiny kitchen, working away and rolling tortillas up with delicious filling.

The beauty of this dish is multifold…it requires few pieces of equipment, utilizes ingredients most of us have on hand, comes together in no time, and can be made to fit anyone’s taste buds. I stuck pretty closely to the original recipe, but as I sit here typing, my mind wanders to the idea of using shredded pork instead of chicken, crumbled queso fresco instead of shredded Mexican blend cheese, mixing pico de gallo in with the enchilada sauce, incorporating other vegetables into the topping…you see where I’m going with this.

It’s dishes like this that keep me coming back for more, both seconds at dinnertime and into my repertoire of favorite recipes. Enjoy! And do share any variations you might come up with when you prepare it – I’d love to hear from you!

IMG_0292

IMG_0293

~~~

Chicken Enchilada Casserole {recipe adapted from The Kitchn}

Easy enough to throw together even on the busiest of nights, this chicken enchilada casserole will leave you feeling satisfied and happy! Can be customized to fit any taste buds, or particular diet {sugar-, dairy-, gluten-free, etc.}. Leftovers freeze beautifully, or can be prepared and frozen in advance.

Ingredients:

1 {15-ounce can} red enchilada sauce *whatever brand you prefer is fine!

10-15 corn tortillas, set out to room temperature

1 lb. cooked shredded chicken* {can be from a rotisserie chicken; 2-3 cooked chicken breasts; or pressure-cooker chicken}

1 {4-ounce can} diced green chiles

1 to 1-1/2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese

1 medium red pepper, sliced into strips

1 onion, sliced into strips

optional toppings: sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, pico de gallo, salsa, sliced avocado, guacamole, shredded lettuce, etc.

*I prefer to toss the chicken with a bit of seasonings, done to taste – here, I used: salt and pepper, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin. Feel free to do so according to your preference! 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Ladle enough of the enchilada sauce into the dish to barely cover the bottom in a thin layer of sauce – about 1/4 cup or so. Set dish aside, but within reaching distance.

On a covered work surface, begin assembling the enchiladas. Lay one tortilla out, and spread down the center {no more than 2-3 Tbsp.} the shredded chicken. Top with a small scoop of the diced green chili. Gently roll the enchilada up and place it seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling mixtures, until you cannot fit any more into the dish.

One the casserole dish is full, sprinkle on the sliced onion and red pepper. Cover completely with remaining enchilada sauce, ensuring that all the surface area is covered. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Portion out and assemble with desired toppings. Enjoy!

IMG_0292

Advertisements

butternut squash & blue cheese spread

Call me basic, but this girl loves some squash.

butternut squash goat cheese dip I howsweeteats.com

In my humble opinion, squash should be celebrated year round – not just autumn, when it’s in season and oh-so-plentiful. Typically, I try to shop seasonally {helps with keeping my food local, costs down, etc.} but squash somehow always finds a way into my cart, shopping trip after shopping trip. It’s a versatile vegetable; salads, main dishes, soup and chili {yes, even in the spring and summer!}…I never find myself tiring of it. Good thing the hubs doesn’t either, otherwise we might have a bit of a problem.

But back to the recipe, lest I get further swept up in preaching my love for squash…

This is definitely a new, and fun, twist on a squash dish. As I mentioned above, none of us are strangers to using said vegetable in all sorts of dishes. But when racking my brain for an autumnal dish to bring on a trip, I thought “why not do something squash-based?” and sure enough, the internet didn’t let me down.  This dip is seriously delicious, and seriously addicting.

Roasted butternut squash meets up with its herbacious friends in a warm, creamy spread. It is bursting with tangy blue cheese, but not so heavy that it leaves you feeling like you need a nap after just a few bites. In fact, the lot of us polished this entire dish off in one sitting, and trust me – not a single one of us felt bad about it. You can scale back on the cheese if you’d like, but I highly suggest leaving it all in. I served it with toasted whole wheat naan bread, rather than chips; they were a bit sturdier, and the nutty flavor of the naan complemented the dip so nicely.

I could easily see this as a spread on sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, dolloped onto a vegetable-based soup or stew…the possibilities are endless! And it can be prepared ahead of time, too; just assemble the dish until the step before you bake it {seal tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to heat through}. You’ll be the star of the party with this one. Truth.

butternutsquashdip

~~~

Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Spread {recipe adapted, slightly, from How Sweet It Is}

Squash lovers, meet your new dip addiction. Blended until creamy and smooth, lusciously rich…perfect for any get-together, and sure to please even the pickiest of palettes! The flavor combinations are out of this world. 

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups cubed butternut squash

3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

pinch grated nutmeg

10 ounces crumbled blue cheese {I used a reduced-fat version, but full-fat would be fine as well}

1 Tbsp. EACH of these dried herbs: oregano, basil, parsley, sage

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Toss and bake for 15 minutes more, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Add the squash {and any olive oil drippings} into the bowl of a food processor along with the nutmeg, dried herbs, and half of the blue cheese crumbles. Blend until completely smooth, and transfer to an oven-proof dish.**

Cover with remaining blue cheese crumbles, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until warmed through. Stir to incorporate melted cheese on top.

Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired, and fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately with your dipper of choice.

butternut squash goat cheese dip I howsweeteats.com

*images courtesy of How Sweet It Is*

philly mac n’ cheese

From a culinary standpoint, birthday celebrations are a big deal in our house. I look forward to them every year {more so the hub’s birthday than my own} because not only are they are good reason to pull out a good bottle of wine, but because we tend to go over the top in terms of dinner.

IMG_8020

We celebrated the hub’s birthday not long ago, and we spent quite some time trying to figure out what kind of meal to prepare. Every year, I let him decide on exactly what it is he wants. No limits, no rules – his dinner wish {and dessert!} is my command. It’s pretty much a win-win for both of us; he gets a meal of his own creation, and I get to have fun whipping it up in the kitchen!

When he settled on the more traditional mac n’ cheese, I asked him to come up with some sort of twist on it, sort of a way to spice it up a bit. We bounced ideas back and forth…flavor combinations, dishes that he likes, we we somehow steered the conversation to sandwiches.

“What about a philly?”  I asked him. His eyes lit up, and I knew we had found the dish of the year. The end result? – a combination of a few staple dishes in my repertoire, with some funky additions that make it perfect for him. It’s an indulgent dish, and you bet that we will be bringing this out again once the cooler autumn months come around.

IMG_8009 IMG_8007 IMG_8003

Enjoy!

~~~

Philly Mac n’ Cheese {recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma}

Definitely one of the more creative birthday dishes we’ve dreamed up over the past few years, this mac n’ cheese hits all the notes of a classic cheese steak sandwich: perfectly loaded with cheese, traditional vegetable add-ons, and of course…oh-so indulgent. 

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. dried pasta, such as cavatappi

non-stick cooking spray

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup milk of choice

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

3/4 cup freshly shredded Gruyere cheese

3/4 cup freshly shredded champagne cheddar cheese {if not available, feel free to swap out with extra sharp cheddar}

1 package frozen spinach {cooked, drained, and cooled}

2 cups baby portabella mushrooms

2 cups chicken {cooked, cooled, and shredded}

1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 cup Panko {Japanese bread crumbs}

olive oil, for sauteeing the mushrooms

salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.

In a small nonstick skillet, cook the mushrooms with a splash of olive oil until lightly sauteed, about 5-7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and melt he butter. Add the cornstarch and cook, stirring well, until the cornstarch is thoroughly incorporated, about 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, chicken stock, and an generous pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking frequently to smooth out any lumps, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add a pinch of pepper and stir to incorporate. Slowly add in both the Gruyere and champagne cheddar cheese, making to sure combine thoroughly.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir well. Next, fold in the spinach, mushrooms, and chicken. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the Parmesan and Panko. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with a side of roasted vegetables {we opted for asparagus!}.

 IMG_8026

IMG_8024

summer vegetable lasagna

This recipe I’m sharing today is a fresh and healthy twist on a classic, tried and true favorite – the lasagna.

Now, before all you pasta purists rise up against me, hear me out. Because, don’t think for one second that I don’t love lasagna…I do, I really do! In fact, this is probably one of the classic dishes that as I child I absolutely loathed {ricotta cheese? that was beyond my taste buds then…things have changed now!}. I don’t know what transformed it over the years, but now it’s a total comfort dish, perfect for chilly fall evenings and those blustery winter nights that practically scream “you know you want to make and devour some lasagna!”

But here I go, digressing from the above-mentioned recipe. Getting back on track, y’all; it’s the end of summer, it’s still HOT, and honestly, I’m okay with turning on my oven. But, here’s where it gets a bit tricky – a big, heavy, carb-y pasta dish does not sound that appealing. So I do what I always do….poke around in the kitchen until I find something to make it work. And here enters my plethora of vegetables.

IMG_3162

IMG_3163

IMG_3168

I know that vegetable lasagna is really nothing new; in fact, if you Google it, so many hits will come up that your head will start to spin. So as I mentioned, I nixed the recipe-searching and came up with my own. We’re basically taking some of the more well-known concepts for building a veggie lasagna, but incorporating a few of my staples into it.

And we’re making it healthy and light! Noodles are replaced with thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant. Canned tomatoes are replaced with hearty slices of garden-ripened fresh tomatoes. And the cheese sauce? We’re using my favorite: my tofu sauce, with some tweaks! Once all baked together, in its bubbly and satisfying glory, it’s divine. So much so that I wish I had doubled the recipe for some freezer meals, because…yeah…we ate the whole pan. In one night.

~~~

Summer Vegetable Lasagna {original recipe, serves 4}

An updated healthy twist on an old favorite! By swapping out noodles for veggies and tofu for cheese {or the majority of it}, we’re basically baking up a vitamin and protein packed entree! Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste buds; I think some hot pepper flakes would be wonderful. 

Ingredients {for the “noodles”}:

1 large zucchini

1 large yellow squash

4 large, vine-ripened tomatoes

kosher salt

*special equipment: mandolin {if you don’t have one, simply make thin slices using a sharp chef’s knife}, baker’s sheet lined with paper towels, 9″ x 9″ glass baking dish, food processor 

Ingredients {for the sauce}:

1 block tofu, coarsely chopped

1 large white onion

1 egg, slightly beaten

2-3 cloves garlic

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. rosemary

3 to 4 tbsp. nutritional yeast

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings:

nutritional yeast

fresh grated cheese {optional}

bread crumbs

extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the “Noodles”:

Using a mandolin set on the 1/4″ thickness of the flat blade, slice both the zucchini and the yellow squash, making sure to stop before reaching the center seed pods. Lay all the slices on the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt.

IMG_3164

IMG_3165

Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and slice into thin strips. Lay on the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt.

The goal of salting the vegetables while prepping the other ingredients is to draw out the moisture. After about 10 minutes, blot the first side very well with another towel, making sure to remove any additional salt. Flip the vegetables over, salt the other side, and leave to sit for another 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat the process of blotting and removing additional salt. Set aside. 

*because we are being more liberal with salt than usual {not all of it will be removed when blotting}, I opted to omit the salt from the sauce we’ll be making. Feel free to adjust to your taste buds as needed, though! 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and spray a 9″ x 9″ glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Prepare the Sauce:

Add a few teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil into a medium saucepan. Once the oil is hot, coarsely chop the onion and garlic, and add into the pan. Cook until the onions are translucent and they are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add in the herbs and cook for another few minutes, allowing the flavors to marry. Remove from heat.

IMG_3166

IMG_3168

In the bowl of your food processor, add in the block of tofu. Top with the cooked vegetables, and puree for 5 minutes, taking care to scrape down the sides to make sure all chunks are eliminated – you’re looking for a consistency similar to ricotta cheese. Add in the nutritional yeast, and blend for another minute. The longer it processes, the smoother it gets; this also helps it cool down quickly!

Once all blended, add the sauce into a mixing bowl. Fold in the egg, making sure it’s fully incorporated.

IMG_3170

Prepare the Lasagna:

In the baking dish, ladle in a small amount of sauce.

Add in the first layer of squash “noodles”, then top with slices of tomato. Ladle on sauce in an even layer. Repeat until you have done about 2-3 layers…you want to finish with the sauce on top.

IMG_3171

IMG_3172

IMG_3173

IMG_3174

Sprinkle with bread crumbs and nutritional yeast {and cheese, if using}, then drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then increase the heat to 400 degrees for the last 15 minutes.  You’ll want the top to be a nice golden brown, and you’ll notice how bubbly the sides of the dish are.

Remove from heat and allow to cool about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

IMG_3176

IMG_3177

Let’s Discuss: Do you have any funky twists on lasagna, or other classic pasta dishes? If so, please share!

tzatziki

Is anyone else overwhelmed with the mass amounts of cucumbers cranking out of your garden?

IMG_3199

Let’s see a show of hands.

I will admit, I’ve had to great creative over the past weeks with the amount of produce being dropped off on my doorstep. After all, a girl and her hubby can only handle so many slices of cucumbers {sprinkled with a little coarse salt, obviously} as an afternoon snack. I’ve done everything from infusing water with these guys, to spiralizing them in salads, and layering them with soft cheese wedges.

And then I remembered that I had yet to make one of my favorite cucumber snacks – tzatziki dip! This wonderfully tangy appetizer is one of my favorites – in fact, a Greek restaurant right in our downtown area makes perhaps one of the best I’ve had. I’ll eat it by the spoonful, it’s that’s delicious.

With the idea set in mind, and friends coming over for a night of cocktails/games/cooking, I knew that this would be an excellent time to tweak my recipe. Oftentimes made with sour cream and whole fat yogurt, I wanted to lighten this up slightly so that it would still be delicious, but with healthier benefits. By swapping out the aforementioned yogurt with 0% Greek, the creamy consistency is not lost, nor is flavor. The tart bite of this yogurt pairs perfectly with the zangy lemon. Fresh, spicy garlic is added in for flavor, and dill acts as the balancing beam between the flavors. A little salt and pepper rounds it all out – you’re left with nothing but a bowl of dip so bursting with flavor {and protein! thanks to the Greek yogurt} you won’t miss a thing.

~~~

Tzatziki {makes about 3 cups}

This not only makes a wonderful dip to set out amongst other appetizers, but I absolutely love to spread it on veggie sandwiches, or use it as a topping on salads. To really ensure full flavor, make it a few hours before serving, to let the flavors truly marry together.  

Ingredients:

3 cups of Greek yogurt {I used Chobani 0%}

1 large cucumber, washed and dried well

juice of 1 fresh lemon

3 large clove garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp. dried dill, or to suit your taste

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Using a box grater on the largest side, process the cucumber. I prefer to leave the skin on, as I like the crisp texture and vitamin boost it provides. If using a cucumber with seeds, grate only the fleshy outer area.

IMG_3203

Squeeze out any excess water and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, dill, and salt and pepper. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until combined. Fold in the grated cucumber using a spatula, making sure to fully incorporate.

IMG_3200 IMG_3202 IMG_3204

Serve alongside assorted veggies, pita bread, and crackers! Dip will last 4 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator…though it never seems to last more than a day or so in our household ; )

IMG_3215

Let’s Discuss: what’s your favorite brand of Greek yogurt? Do you prefer cooking with a certain variety? 

 

homemade pizza dough

This is a trip down memory lane for me, y’all.

Since I was in elementary school, my mom has had a bread machine. Homemade breads, pretzels, muffins and the like were never short in our household growing up; in fact, I’m fairly certain the 5 of us would burn through at least one large loaf a week. I have fond memories of coming home from school and walking into the house smelling of fresh bread, which I would then slather with Nutella {old habits die hard, I suppose!}. But I have to say that one of my favorite memories associated with said machine was ‘homemade pizza night’.

You see, every Friday, the family would congregate in the kitchen, crowding around the countertops and bumping elbows to decorate their own pizza. My mom and dad would usually share a large one {split down the middle}, and my 2 sisters and myself would each get our own. I can honestly say that it’s fairly easy for me to cluster my youth by pizza topping categories. The best memories are oftentimes associated with food and communal table gathering, especially with my foodie family, so I’m sure you’re not too surprised by this.

But anyways – as I said, even up through high school, Friday night was always reserved for this family tradition. Sure, as we got older, high school football games on Friday nights may cut into the evening time, but it was still always important for us as a family to keep up this tradition. It’s one that, when I moved away for college, I would anticipate with such enthusiasm upon trips home. It’s real serious.

And today, this is a tradition that my husband and I now share together. The first time he was able to experience homemade pizza, I’m pretty sure he looked like he was in absolute heaven. Paired with a nice bottle of red wine {for you over 21ers!}, this meal is the perfect way to decompress from a long week at work – sit back and let your bread machine do the work, prep a few toppings, and before you know it, you’re tucked in on the couch flipping through your Netflix :)

~~~

Homemade Pizza Dough

this is the recipe that my mom has used for as long as I can remember. It can be adapted to be done in a standing mixer, but the method and recipe will be slightly different. If you don’t have a bread machine, check out this post from Shutterbean. You’ll just need to carve out a little extra prep time. 

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups water, room temperature

3 tbsp. light olive oil

4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. honey

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. yeast {for use with a bread machine}

optional: 1 heaping tbsp. of vital wheat gluten 

extra flour, for dusting your board

cornmeal, for baking sheets/pizza stones

*special equipment: bread machine

To Prepare:

In the following order, add the ingredients into the well of your bread machine: water, olive oil, honey, and the all-purpose flour {make sure to evenly cover the water so the yeast will not mix early with it}. In one corner atop the flour, add the salt. In a separate corner, add in the vital wheat gluten. Lastly, form a slight well in the center of the flour and add in the yeast. Cover it lightly with the flour.

Set according to your manufacturer’s instructions. The particular model that I have has a dough cycle that runs for 1 hour 50 minutes, or if I’m in a pinch, I can run it on the quick cycle for 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Once your dough has completed, turn it out onto a surface dusted with flour. Divide the dough (I typically get 4 personal-sized pizzas out of one batch) and roll out to desired thickness. Lay each onto a baking sheet or pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal.

Now, it’s time for the fun part!!! Let yourself get as creative as you’d like with your toppings/sauces…after all, that’s the best part of making pizza at home! I’ve listed below a few of our favorite, tried-and-true combos…

-marinara/mozzarella/parmesan/pepperoni/mushroom

-marinara/mozzarella/mushrooms/sausage

-marinara/mozzarella/parmesan/pepperoni/sausage/olives

-fresh tomato slices/romano cheese/caramelized onion/spinach/chicken

-salsa {as the “sauce”}/mexican cheese/chicken/pineapple/red pepper flakes

-no sauce{!})/sausage/spinach/blue cheese/hot sauce {drizzled on after coming out of the oven)

-fresh tomato/spinach/proscuitto/caramelized onion/mushrooms

-alfredo sauce/chicken/sausage/diced tomato/basil

…of course, feel free to experiment! Classic combinations are a never fail, so don’t be afraid to go with what you love!

Once you’ve completed your masterpiece(s), place onto baking racks in oven. I typically let mine go for 15 minutes, then rotate pans (top pizza onto lower rack, and lower pizza onto top rack). Depending on your oven, you’ll need anywhere from 8-15 more minutes to complete the cooking cycle. If you like your’s bubbly and crisp like I do, start your pizza on the bottom and let it finish cooking on the top rack.

It’s pure heaven if you sprinkle a bit of fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt on top once they come out of the oven.

Enjoy! This will certainly be a tradition in the making, much as it has been in my family.

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!

~~~

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.

photo1 photo2

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.

photo3

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