Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Watermelon, Arugula, and Toasted Almond Salad
Watermelon, Arugula, and Toasted Almond Salad

In the sweltering days of August nothing satisfies the palate more than a crisp cool salad. During a heat wave salads are often the only dishes that seem even remotely appealing. After a while though, even the freshest salads made from the ripest local produce may get a little boring. When that happens, its time for a summer salad that will jolt your senses and titillate your salad-weary taste buds. This is it!

The first delight of this salad is the slice of crisp juicy watermelon on which the dressed greens perkily perch. The next surprise is the sweet and tangy dressing, made from a reduction of watermelon juice and cider vinegar. Each mouthful of salad bursts with the contrasts of the sweet melon, the tangy dressing, the slight bitterness of the arugula, and the crunch of the toasted almonds.

Watermelon, Arugula and Toasted-Almond Salad
Adapted from Homegrown Pure and Simple:
Great Healthy Food from Garden to Table
by Michael Nischan

1 small watermelon (about 6 pounds)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 ounces baby arugula leaves (4 cups loosely packed)
Sprinkling of fleur de sel or other natural coarse sea salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted until lightly golden and fragrant

To peel the watermelon, slice off both ends to reveal the flesh. Stand the watermelon upright, cut side down, on the cutting board. Using a large knife, slice the rind from the flesh, working from the top to the bottom in one long slice if possible. Repeat all around the melon, using the white of the rind as a guide for the knife, until the melon is completely peeled. Cut the flesh into 1-inch-thick slices. Trim six of the best looking slices into 3 or 4 inch squares or diamond shapes that will fit on salad serving plates. Refrigerate if preparing salad in advance but allow slices to come to room temperature before serving.

Chop the remaining watermelon into chunks, reserving 1 ½ cups to make the dressing. Refrigerate the rest for another use.

To make dressing, in a blender or food processor, puree 1 1/2 cups watermelon until smooth. Strain through sieve to make 1 cup juice. In a small saucepan, sauté the scallion whites with 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat, until soft. Add watermelon juice and vinegar; bring to a boil over medium-high flame. Lower flame and simmer until reduced to about 3 tablespoons, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. Pour into a small bowl; cool. Whisk in remaining oil, salt and pepper.

To make the salad, arrange the watermelon squares on six chilled salad plates. Sprinkle with some fleur de sel. In a large bowl, combine arugula, almonds and sliced onion greens. Add 2 tablespoons dressing and toss gently. Top watermelon squares with salad. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

Yield: 6 servings

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Blogger Crazy Lady said...
I made this dressing the other night. It was so wonderful! My neighbors were so impressed, and it really was wonderfully easy! Thank you.