Tag Archives: watermelon

Pan-Seared Watermelon with Salmon and Mint Chimichurri

15 Aug

 

seared watermelon salmon mint chimichurri

Last fall, I picked up a copy of Mark Bittman’s then-new book, The Food Matters Cookbook. I was feeling like my diet needed a bit of a shakeup, and I was drawn to Bittman’s philosophy, which essentially boils down to the idea that meat can and should be used as an ingredient, or a garnish, in a dish rather than as the main event. I love meat and can’t see myself going the vegetarian route, so the ideas and recipes in Bittman’s book struck a chord with me.

Of course, I also have a bad habit of buying cookbooks, flipping through them, and then promptly putting them away in my kitchen and forgetting about them for an extended period. This one suffered such a fate until I pulled it out this weekend for a look and something caught my eye that I’d never tasted, and frankly didn’t even realize was possible—seared watermelon.

In Mark Bittman’s recipe, the seared watermelon was used as a base for a Japanese-inspired fish dish. He wrote that the watermelon took on a substantial steak-like texture when it was seared, as the water was pulled out of it. I knew I needed to try this, but in my mind, I saw the watermelon paired with salmon (rather than the simple white fish Bittman recommends) and topped with a simple, fresh mint and basil chimichurri, since the flavours of watermelon and mint go so great together.

Jenny and I both agreed that this really turned out amazing. In addition to becoming less watery and firmer when seared, the sugars in the watermelon also caramelize in the pan, which adds a bit of a burnt sugar element. And while this looks like an elaborate, composed dish on the plate, it came together in no time at all—perfect for a weeknight.

pan seared watermelon

Pan-seared watermelon with salmon and mint-basil chimichurri

For the chimichurri:

1 C basil leaves, packed
¼ C mint leaves, packed
¼ C olive oil (good oil, like a Spanish – oil will be part of flavour so it should be good quality)
Zest and juice of half a lemon
A couple grinds of salt and pepper

Place all ingredients and half the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse for a minute or two until leaves get chopped and ingredients are well blended. Add more olive oil as needed, depending on desired consistency (less oil for a thicker chimichurri, more for a thinner one).

For the pan-seared watermelon:

Slice watermelon an inch or two thick and remove the rind. Season slices with a pinch of salt. Heat a metal pan coated with a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat for several minutes. When oil begins to sizzle, place watermelon slices in pan. Leave to sear for two minutes or so, until it begins to brown, then flip and cook another two minutes on the other side. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate.

For the salmon:

Season individually portioned salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Sear on both sides in a hot pan until cooked, a few minutes per side.

To plate, place a slice of seared watermelon on a plate, top with a salmon fillet, then drizzle chimichurri overtop the salmon.

seared watermelon salmon chimichurri

Simply Assembled: Watermelon and Feta Salad with Pickled Onions

25 Aug

Some recipes are almost non-recipes. You know, the ones that are so easy it’s really more about assembly and not so much about cooking?

I love those recipes. I’m really quite good at making them. Because the truth is, in our house Neil is the real ‘chef’ and I’m just a food-lover who likes to bring flavors and textures together in interesting ways and assemble dishes that taste and look amazing.

This is one of those dishes, but it’s not just the ease of making it that makes it so good. The flavors in this super-quick salad come together beautifully and simply, really showcasing each ingredient. And with watermelon in season, it’s the perfect time for it. Not to mention the fact that it looks great on the plate.

I can’t take any credit for this salad. I didn’t come up with the recipe (in fact, I stole it from Neil’s mom who is both a ‘chef’ like Neil and an ‘assembler’ like me) and I don’t even know where it originally came from, but it’s so uncomplicated and flavorful that I had to share it.

I made this the other night to bring to a dinner party with our friends Paul & Lisa (of The Hip and Urban Girl’s Guide) and it was a hit. It was a great prelude to Lisa’s delicious Paella and white sangria.

The salad looks great plated individually (as pictured above) but for a party, it’s just as easy to plate it on an oversized platter and let people help themselves. Just make sure not to toss this salad, it needs to be served in layers, without blending it all together. The flavors need to stand alone to work together.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Pickled Onions

Arugula – for this salad I like the spicier wild version instead of baby arugula

Watermelon cut into chunky cubes

Feta cheese cut into chunks or crumbled – I used a firm Canadian feta

Homemade Pickled onions (recipe below)

Balsamic drizzle – I use a store-bought balsamic glaze. Definitely an ingredient worth keeping in your pantry and you can find it at most grocery stores.

Pickled red onions:

1 medium red onion, sliced

1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. white sugar

1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seeds

1 tsp. black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Bring all but onion to a boil over med-high heat.  Remove and stir for one minute to dissolve sugar completely.  Immediately add onion slices.  Let stand 15-20 minutes until onion is bright red.  Once cooled, store the onions in the fridge until you’re ready to top the salad. Remove the onions from the liquid but don’t rinse them off. You can remove the peppercorns with your hands as well as some of the mustard seeds, but I like to leave them in and add them to the salad along with the onions.

To assemble the salad:

Line individual plates with arugula.  Scatter watermelon pieces overtop, then the feta.  Top with a good amount of pickled onions and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

There isn’t any other dressing – the onions and the balsamic create all the flavor that you need and the feta adds that hint of salt and richness.

I love these pickled onions and will definitely make them again for other salads and to use as a condiment. They’d be great on burgers or sandwiches!

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