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!