This is hands down one of my favorite dishes in the summer – hand has easily been the thing most repeated around here in the last month or so.
You can dress it up as much or as little as you like, but I keep it pretty simple. Watermelon, cheese, herbs, and seasonings. If you want, some cucumber and a bit of red onion are also nice additions, but I usually just stick to the basics.
Feta or queso fresco are the best bets for cheese in my book (usually only going the queso fresco route on taco night, when I am using it in multiples places), but make sure you buy the feta in a block (often times still submerged in whey) – so you can cut it up yourself. The pre-crumbled kind is not nearly as good – and its not as though crumbling some cheese requires much work, no matter how simple you are keeping it.
Herbs – mint is my favorite here, but basil works too in a pinch – as would a combo of both. To season, I like a sprinkle of red wine or sherry vinegar and then a light drizzle of olive oil (a finishing one, if you keep multiples around) … the oil feels funky at first, but adds the perfect amount of richness.
The finishing touch, which takes it from super basic to a constant summer request, is a little bit of good flakey salt just before serving (i.e. Maldon) … it really brings it all together.
It is great for lunch, dinner, picnics and barbecues, but I recommend making it as close to serving as possible … or at least dressing it then. You want the melon to retain the water, not to have it become a soggy mess first in the bowl.
A few of the combos we have had it with so far:
- Lamb meatballs with tzatziki and grilled summer squash
- Fish tacos
- Buttermilk roast chicken and coleslaw
- Grilled halibut with basil aioli and sauteed kale
It really is great with everything! I have a feeling it will be on the menu again this week.
What are your summer favorites?