Rick Rodgers: “Essence of Summer” Salad

Summer is winding down. I can practically hear the days ticking away like an old-fashioned alarm clock. I stalk my local farmer’s market, filling paper bags with gorgeous produce to savor at home before my favorite fruits and vegetables disappear until next summer. Sure, we can all buy melons, tomatoes, corn, peaches, and plums throughout the year, but they are shadows of the August selves, and the carbon footprint to get them into your supermarket is enormous. Here is a salad that is the very essence of summertime cooking.

This watermelon, tomato, and mint salad is everything that a late August dish should be. It features produce at its flavorful best, and it looks terrific. The dish comes together quickly without turning on the stove, and can be served as a light lunch entrée or as part of a barbecue (I especially like it with grilled lamb). Serve it right after making, though, as it doesn’t hold well.

Watermelon, Tomato, and Mint Salad
Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • ½ small (“individual-size”) watermelon, preferably seedless
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, preferably green or orange heirlooms, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

1. Cut off and discard the watermelon rind. Cut the watermelon into 1-inch cubes, removing any seeds as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

2. Add the tomatoes, onion, and mint to the watermelon and toss gently. Add the feta cheese and toss again. Serve immediately.

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