Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hot Watermelon Salad

One of my absolute favorite things about cooking is introducing someone to something new. It’s especially gratifying if they’ve gotten it into their heads that not only would they not like this new item, they would hate it. And I don’t love changing people’s minds with just things I make –although that is nice — it can be anything from fruits, dishes at restaurants, condiments, drinks — whatever.

From my perspective, really, why would you form an opinion about how you think you’ll like something before you’ve tried it? With a whole world of flavors and foods out there to combine and try, how could one know their preferences on everything? Granted I am probably more adventurous than the average Jane, but I think something at least must be tried a few times before a real opinion can be formed.

Speaking of adventuresome, my manfriend and I tried roasted pig heart with cauliflower at City House in Nashville the other weekend. The texture was sort of that of a portobello mushroom and it was very full-flavored. More than anything, the roast flavor came through loud and clear. And while it was a pig heart, it didn’t taste much like pork, just a lean, tender muscle. I liked it.

Now just because I started this post off with notes on a pig heart, doesn’t mean this hot watermelon salad takes the same sort of adventurousness. It is actually quite an approachable recipe. Few ingredients, fresh fruit and herbs, and a sweet/savory/hot flavor profile that is just perfect for summertime.

I’d had versions of watermelon salad kind of like this before, but had never made one on my own. This recipe is adapted from one I found in Bon Appetit magazine last summer.

The recipe was a wild hit with my friends the evening I made it. And it was so easy! As I said above, I love love LOVE surprising someone with a new dish, but what’s even better, is when it is simple and straightforward to make, like this recipe was.

Hot Watermelon Salad
1/4 cup hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)*
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño chiles
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes seedless watermelon
chopped fresh mint

Whisk hot chili sauce, oil, vinegar, and honey in small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper. Place chilesand watermelon in large bowl. Toss with dressing and let marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour. Make Ahead: You can prepare everything as directed without the watermelon in advance; the watermelon will get soupy if it sits too long.

* Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets.


One Response to “Hot Watermelon Salad”

  1. 1

    DJ B — July 13, 2009 @ 9:19 am

    First, I love than Andrew is your "manfriend" and not your "boyfriend", although do you really want to be referred to as someone's "womanfriend"? Sounds like something out of a Jane Austen novel…

    I love going to City House – Tandy is really creative, everything is really fresh and their wine list is matched superbly with the food they serve.

    Here is another super easy summer fruit dish: Grilled peaches with bleu cheese. Just cut 'em in half, drop 'em on the grill and when they get those lovely black racing stripes, fill the pit cavity with the cheese, drizzle with just a bit of honey and yer done. Looks fancy, tastes great and takes two minutes. Bin-go!

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