I have the occasional sleep-habit of scribbling down almost undecipherable “recipes” on the pad of post-its I always keep beside my bed. Recipes is in quotes like that because most of the dream-concoctions are, ah, creative- but very probably not edible. The first few people I introduced this marvelous salad were aware of this quirk, and were therefore a little suspicious about putting any of the meal actually into their mouths.
This ingredient list might sound incredibly strange to you, but trust me. If you can’t, no big deal, your anxiety (and forthcoming resulting surprise) will only add to the overall amazing experience you’ll have when tasting this!
1 large watermelon
1/2 head of lettuce (or handful fresh spinach)
2 ripe mangoes
1/4 red onion
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved OR 5 medium tomatoes, quartered
goat cheese, crumbled
good olive oil
Cut off the rind of your watermelon, taking care not to waste any of the red flesh. I’m not so skilled at this part, so I personally find it helps to slice the melon in half first, and then to cut each of the halves into thick slices- so the melon is divided into 5 or 6 slices. Then, I trim the hard green off each individual piece. Please feel free to be more talented and less time-wastey than me.
Next, take out a few big freezer bags. Make a good amount of room in the freezer, as the melon is fragile and if you leave heavier items knocking around, the slices will easily crush into a mess of juice that will seep into every last crevice of your freezer (true story).
Scatter a pinch of sea salt over each slice of watermelon. I know, your nose has just crinkled and you’re about to x out of this window. But hear me out! You may be familiar with salting meat to tenderize it? Salting something simply helps bring out the juice. Scientists, feel free to explain this in the comments! I have no idea what or how or why or whatever, but the melon is juicier after being salted and let alone a while! (And no, it doesn’t taste like salty fruit.)
Divide the slices amongst the bags, and put them into the freezer for at least 15 minutes, and ideally, half an hour. This firms the melon up- when it comes out, it tastes unbelievably fresh! I don’t know why this is either, but magic freezer time is the way to go.
Time to assemble!
Think of each slice as a plate on which you are gonna pile all the other ingredients. You will only cut the slice when breaking into the dish with your knife and fork- so you get as much fresh and juicy melon on your fork as decorative delish!
Drizzle each watermelon slice with your best olive oil, as well as some balsamic vinegar. Make sure to be controlled, and to keep a good balance between the two- think of them as setting the stage, not the lead actors.
First layer: the lettuce!
Each slice only needs a few leaves, just enough to make a layer; unlike in many other salad recipes, the hero of this is not the lettuce (thank god).
Next layers: mango & red onion
1. Skin your mangoes and carefully slice into bite-sized pieces. Try not to consume all slices before it’s time to set out the plates to eat. I’ve actually factored in a loss of self-control here- technically-speaking, you usually only need tops 1 1/2 mangoes for 5 servings.
Divide remaining slices among servings. Wash your hands.
2. Thinly slice your red onion. Sprinkle on top of the mango slices.
Last Layers: tomatoes & cheese
3. Either halve your cherry tomatoes or quarter your medium-sized tomatoes! Add to the melon platter. Try to wedge these final ingredients in where they fit- it makes no difference to the taste, but the presentation is more attractive when you try to stick to the “melon plate” look, rather than letting things topple off to the sides. As you can see.
4. Unwrap your goat cheese and sprinkle it over the salad. It’s up to you how much you want to use, but I think it’s a good idea to try to balance out the amount of each ingredient, so no one taste overwhelms the whole thing. But, the most important ingredients here (in the way their tastes complement the others) are the frozen watermelon, balsamic vinegar, and goat cheese. So no scrimping on cheese!
Will be back later with costs & calories! Any questions/comments/suggestions/foil-proof mastermind schemes? Share below!