There is little I enjoy more during the oppressive summer heat than a refreshing watermelon salad that cools the palette and reinvigorates a hot, sluggish body.
With an infinite variety of watermelon salad recipes to choose from, however, I have found two of the most delectable to be from two different restaurants in New York City’s Upper East Side neighborhood: Peri Ela, a Turkish restaurant, and Paola’s, an Italian restaurant.
Peri Ela’s version, reflecting a typical Middle Eastern style, uses tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and mint, while Paola’s includes a classic Italian spin with heirloom tomatoes, basil, Montrachet goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.Both are like eating from a summer garden paradise!
We hope you’ll enjoy our watermelon salad recipe below.
Watermelon Salad “Italian Style” (inspired by Paola’s)
1-2 cups of fresh watermelon*, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small garden fresh tomato or 2-3 “cocktail” tomatoes
1-2 good-sized fresh basil leaves
Desired amount of creamy goat cheese (we used Vermont Creamery)
Your favorite Balsamic vinaigrette or our balsamic recipe below (or simply a balsamic reduction drizzling over the salad – i.e. heat balsamic vinegar on stove on medium heat and stir until it reduces to a slightly thick consistency. Then cool and drizzle over salad.)
Ingredients for Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove minced garlic (optional)
Note: we did not include garlic in this salad. However, using garlic makes this a great dressing for many different green leaf/fruit/nut/cheese salads.
*Watermelons are 92-95 percent water, hence their name. They are native to Africa and were cultivated in Egypt and India around 5,000 years ago where it was “customary for peasants to offer watermelon to thirsty voyagers” (they had watermelon “canteens”). They contain Vitamin C, potassium and are considered a good cleansing agent, diuretic and detoxifier. And so, if you’re ever in fear of a water shortage, grow watermelon!
See also the Huffington Post’s Top 10 Watermelon Salad Recipes.