Tuesday, August 12, 2008

38. Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Salad (p. 145)

What's with Gourmet's obsession for putting watermelon in places it doesn't belong? Before starting The Project, the most exotic thing I'd ever done with a watermelon was to make watermelon sorbet from Alice Waters's cookbook. That, and playing the greased watermelon game at Boy Scout camp when I was a kid ... but that's another story. So far this summer, however, I've already made Watermelon Gazpacho and Watermelon Rind Chutney. Now, I've made this strange recipe for a savory salad featuring watermelon. And I'll be darned if it wasn't half bad.

The recipe is simple enough: just combine diced watermelon, diced tomatoes, crumbled feta and chopped cilantro, along with some oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. I cut the recipe in half since it's just me and my wife, and after the Watermelon Gazpacho incident, I didn't have high hopes for leftovers. Turns out, I was wrong, and the salad held up pretty well in the refrigerator for a day or two, and I enjoyed some with my lunch today.

The recipe calls for white Balsamic vinegar. I've never heard of such a thing before. According to this site, white balsamic vinegar is:
A version of Balsamic vinegar that is made with white wine vinegar and grape must (fresh pressed juice with seeds and skins). Traditional balsamic vinegar is made with red wine vinegar, thus providing a deep reddish color which may add a undesirable tint to the food being dressed. The white variety is often used when the color of white sauces or foods will be adversely affected by the dark brown color of traditional balsamic vinegar. White balsamic vinegar is milder and less sweet than regular Balsamic vinegar and is often considered more suitable for use with salad dressings, since it does not have a strong flavor that can be overpowering when used on salad greens.

I was impressed that my local mega-mart not only carried it, but even had it as a product in its in-house line of "fancy food." Way to go mega-mart! I tasted some of the vinegar on its own before I put it into the salad, and it certainly is milder and thinner than regular balsamic. I thought that it was actually a little sweeter than regular balsamic, and reminded me of cider vinegar. (Hey, wait a minute. Did the mega-mart pull a fast one on me? If so, shame on you mega-mart!)

As was the case with the Watermelon Gazpacho and the Watermelon Rind Chutney, it was hard to find a perceptible watermelon flavor in the finished salad. I sensed a glimmer of watermelon every couple of bites, but for the most part, I couldn't tell whether I was eating watermelon or tomato, or both. What I did sense was refreshment and a nice melding of cool flavors and different textures. The feta gave the salad a nice saltiness and tang, but if I had it to do over again, I'd add more feta. Not surprising, since I always want to add more feta to any recipe that calls for feta. What can I say, I like the stuff.

My wife put it well when she said that this salad was very good, but it wasn't a "revelation." She also accused me of "grade inflation" with my ratings, and suggested that I should reserve "A" ratings for dishes that are revelations. So, it's for that reason that this recipe gets a B.

Date Cooked: August 10, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B


EILEEN said...

Love watermelon. This salad looks great!

Kiki said...

Coquilles St. Jacques and Peas and Spinach? Both revelations. This was just good.