Watermelon -- the quintessential summer fruit. No food personifies summer in the way this pink and green melon does. Unfortunately, it is often relegated to a fruit tray. Fruit trays are lovely, and they are particularly helpful as a healthy option at summer barbecues, but this melon is so much more versatile than we often give it credit for.
If you are looking for a new twist on this seasonal delight, try this grilled summer salad that is healthy and filling -- the best combination.
The sweetness of the watermelon gets kicked up a notch when it is lightly grilled on a grill pan. If you are already operating an outdoor grill, you could easily throw these watermelon slices onto it, but an indoor grill pan will be just fine. The sweetness and slight caramelization of the watermelon’s natural sugars stands up so nicely to the robust kale, smoky almonds and salty feta.
The simple lemon vinaigrette pairs perfectly with the balsamic drizzle as a finish.
This salad is quite easy to prepare, but it looks like a million bucks, so it would be a perfect first course at your next dinner party.
If you are not a fan of kale and the idea of eating it raw is not appealing to you, I sincerely challenge you to try it! Kale is full of folic acid, fiber and other healthy elements that our bodies crave.
Be sure to pay special attention to the directions about massaging the kale ribbons with the lemon zest; this is an integral step in making sure that the kale wilts slightly so that it breaks down just enough to complement the other ingredients.
Grilled Watermelon Salad
1 bunch kale
Zest of 2 lemons
3 cups arugula or spinach
1/2 small watermelon
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup smoked almonds, rough chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Serves four to six.
Remove the woodsy stems from each kale leaf, then roll each leaf up like a cigar and cut in 1/4-inch slices. Place all of the kale ribbons in a large bowl. Zest the two lemons over the kale, then reserve the lemons for the dressing. Massage the lemon zest into the kale with your hands for about 30 seconds, then add the arugula or spinach on top and set aside.
The zest will slightly wilt the kale as the acid breaks down the fiber just slightly. This will help soften the kale to complement the other salad green.
Next, heat a grill pan or heavy-bottomed frying pan to medium-high heat. Slice the watermelon into 1-inch slices (you should have about three) and remove the rind. Brush each side with olive oil and sear for about 1 minute on each side. Remove the watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes, and set aside.
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the vinegar reduces to a syrup, then set aside. If you can find balsamic glaze or drizzle at the grocery store, you can use that instead of reducing the vinegar.
Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a jar and shake until combined. You may also whisk the ingredients in a small bowl to combine. Add the dressing to the greens mixture and toss to combine.
To assemble each salad, place about 1 cup of the greens mixture on a salad plate and top with about 1/2 cup grilled watermelon, 1 ounce feta, 2 tablespoons almonds, and a quick drizzle of the balsamic glaze.
Alex and Eleta Morrison live in Macon and write a food blog, Bungalow Kitchen. Like their page on Facebook for updates and visit their blog at bungalowkitchen.wordpress.com. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.