Greek Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Cool, sweet watermelon might just be the most exquisite thing on a hot summer afternoon. We all grew up with those cool wedges at summer outdoor gatherings – 4th of July picnics, family reunions, and camping trips. While we can find it nearly everywhere at just about any time of year these days, it is still best when it accompanies the rest of Summer’s garden staples.

This savory Greek salad of melon, tomato, cucumber, and feta takes advantage of two true summer stars. The fun combination of sweet and savory juices along with the crunchy texture of cucumber makes for a refreshing warm weather salad. Simply dressed, topped with crumbled salty feta cheese and embellished with chopped fresh herbs like tarragon, dill, basil or oregano.

We like to serve this take on a classic Greek salad on a bed of peppery watercress or arugula. The sharp greens add both taste and texture. We tend to prepare more than we can eat in a sitting, so we didn’t toss the greens with the melon and tomatoes. They wilt pretty quickly and we don’t like having to pick limp strings out of the leftovers. The watercress is particularly tender and likely to dissolve into the juices of the salad

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Watermelon and Watercress Salad

3 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2′ pieces
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
A handful watercress or arugula
1 avocado, cut into 1/4″ pieces
4-6 ounces feta cheese, cubed
salt and pepper

optional: fresh herbs like, tarragon, parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint

Add the cucumbers to a bowl, and the tomatoes into another. Divide the vinegar and olive oil over each vegetable, add a little salt and pepper, and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or so.

When ready to assemble the salad, mix the tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon together. Taste and season with more vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. In a serving bowl, place the watercress or arugula in the bottom of the bowl, add the watermelon salad mixture with the accumulated juices. Top with avocado, feta cheese, and fresh herbs.

Summer Corn Salad with Roasted Potatoes

Summer has officially begun and no other vegetable epitomizes summer like fresh corn. We love the taste of fresh corn from the cob and knew it would make a fine companion to potatoes, asparagus and roasted red peppers. Roasting red peppers over a flame until parts of it are good and charred gives them that camp fire smokiness that screams summer barbecue. This summer veggie melange becomes a beautiful summer dinner salad or side to grilled meats or fish. Just dress it with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, then toss it all with spicy arugula and fresh chopped sweet herbs like dill, basil or tarragon.

Each of the “fresh” veggies in this salad spent some time with heat. The corn and asparagus pieces were blanched and then dropped into an ice bath before serving. The potatoes were boiled, halved and then browned on a stovetop griddle. The peppers were completely cooked, whole, skin on, on an open flame on our gas burning stove until it was black. We then wrapped them in paper towels to steam before we peeled them. Why blanch? It seals in vitamins, brightens color, sweetens and cleanses. It renders fresh veggies crisp/tender to the bite. It also readies them for storage – freezer or canning – and extends their fresh shelf life in the refrigerator. We ate this salad for a couple of days and it retained its great taste and texture.

We served the salad with rotisserie chicken and paired it with a simple Spanish rosé. Instead of salad, the veggies could be combined and warmed together with herbs and served with a fried egg and crunchy toast for a summery weekend brunch.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Summer Corn Salad with Roasted Potatoes

2 lbs or 1 small bag small potatoes such as yukon gold or red
1 bunch asparagus or green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 ears fresh corn, shucked from the cob
1 red pepper
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 bunch arugula
fresh dill
blue cheese crumbles

In a medium sized pot, fill half way with fresh cold water. Place the pan over medium – high heat until water is boiling. Add a large pinch of salt and place the potatoes in the pot. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or just until a knife pierces the potato. Remove the potatoes from the water and set aside uncovered to cool.

If you have a gas stove, place the red pepper over a burner and turn the gas on medium heat to roast the pepper. Turn the pepper with a set of tongs to keep the pepper from burning all the way through. Once it is charred on all sides, wrap in a couple paper towels and set aside to loosen the charred skin, 3 minutes or so. Rub the paper towel over the pepper to remove the skin. Remove stem and seeds from the pepper then slice into strips, and dice. Set aside.

Add the asparagus to the potato water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or less depending on the the size of the asparagus. Remove from the pot and place in an ice bath. Set aside until chilled.

Add the shucked corn to the heated water. Heat for 30 seconds then remove and place in an ice bath. Allow to cool.

In the bottom of a large bowl, add the juice from 1 lemon and at least 3 tablespoons good olive oil. Add a 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few good grinds of pepper. Whisk.

Dry the asparagus, add to the bowl with the dressing. Add the peppers and corn. Toss with the dressing and season to taste, adding more lemon juice or olive oil if needed. Set aside.

On the stovetop over medium-high heat, heat up a skillet or pan. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice in half and add to a medium sized bowl. Toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil to coat the potatoes. Add the potatoes, cut side down, to the hot skillet or pan. Roast until golden, 4-8 minutes. Once cooked, take off the heat and set aside.

Add the arugula to the corn and asparagus, toss. Plate the salad and top with warmed potatoes, fresh dill sprigs, and a crumble of blue cheese. Serve and enjoy.