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

7 Responses to “Pan-Seared Watermelon with Salmon and Mint Chimichurri”

  1. Rose Reisman August 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Salmon is one of my favourites to eat and cook with! beautiful presentation!

    • Neil Faba August 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

      Thanks Rose – we appreciate the comment!

  2. Kitchen Vignettes August 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    this recipe is right up my alley!! LOVE the idea of pan-seared watermelon! I’ve got a patch of mint in my garden and just discovered the most exquisitely buttery organic irish salmon at my local fish shop so this recipe is perfect! I’m going to love following this blog!! so glad to have reconnected with you today!

    • Jenny Tryansky August 22, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      Thanks Aube! Kitchen Vignettes looks amazing and we can’t wait to read (and watch) more! Great to have reconnected with you.
      Which local fish shop have you been going to? We’re hooked on Hooked in Leslieville, but always great to hear of other fabulous places.

      • Kitchen Vignettes August 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

        Hey Jenny, I’ve been going to Bill’s Lobster on Gerrard& Broadview right in Chinatown, they really know their fish, and they’re into ethical sourcing… they’ve got wild sockeye (although season is almost over he tells me) and certified organic Irish salmon… I’ll have to try Hooked! Here’s a little write-up on Bill’s:

  3. thislittlevegan August 26, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The photos alone are enough to make anyone want to give this dish a whirl. Inspiring!

  4. Yafa Sakkejha September 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    mmmmm…this looks amazing. must try it!

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