I always enjoy seeing, reading or listening to Nigella Lawson. First of all, she is funny. Very, very funny – which comes across in print or broadcast. Second, her recipes and ideas are among the most inspirational to me. They are down to earth yet always seem to have an interesting twist that makes me want to run home and try them out.
She was on NPR earlier this week promoting her new cookbook “Nigella Fresh”. Nigela was her usual entertaining self, positively yucking it up with Steve Innskeep, and the recipes she shared were all just perfect for the horrendous heat we’ve been having (52 days of over 90 degree heat this year so far ).
Next time let's try cooling off with a sweet and savory melon salad!
In particular, she talked about a watermelon, feta and olive salad she makes. Which reminded me of something similar in my repertoire that I have not trotted out in a while. My version is more or less a classic Greek Shepherd’s salad except, instead of using tomatoes, I use either watermelon or cantelope. Watermelon is just as easy if you can find a seedless variety , otherwise go for cantelope. I also don’t bother soaking the red onion in lime juice beforehand. Nigella says it mellows out the bite of the onion so maybe next time I’ll try that although I think that bite provides a nice contrast against the sweetness of the melon.
This salad is great served alongside plain grilled chicken with extra limes to squeeze over the chicken.
Try it with our Maltese Chardonnay (yes that’s right – produced in Malta!) , Meridiana Wine Estate Isis 2008 ($22).
Meridiana’s Isis Chardonnay is named for the Phoenician goddess of sailors — and you can still see her image on Maltese fishing boats today. The wine is crisp and loaded with ripe fruit flavors, peach, apricot, and tropical fruits too. It’s not aged in oak, allowing all the flavors to come through unimpeded. Light enough to drink as an aperitif, it’s also substantial enough to drink with any of your usual white wine pairings. And while it’s not a sweet wine, the fruit body allows it to pair well with spicy foods too.
Sweet and Savory Melon Salad
Serves 6 – 8
About 3 lbs ripe watermelon or cantelope, cut into 3/4 ” chunks
4 medium sized cucumbers, peeled and chunked as above
Handful chopped fresh mint
small red onion, chopped
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
3 – 4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
3 – 4 limes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pitted black olives if desired
Combine first 4 ingredients in large salad bowl, sprinkle with olive oil, feta and juice from a couple of the squeezed limes. Grind a few turns of pepper over the salad, gently toss. Taste for flavoring , add more lime juice or pepper as needed. Sprinkle olives over salad if using.