We love this salad with its unusual ingredient mix of watermelon, tomato, feta and herbs. Any time I serve it to guests, it is always a big hit as well. However, the real key to it is the watermelon. The best ones are vine ripened and summer sweet. Arkansas has two well-known watermelon growing areas: Hope and Cave City. While Hope melons are certainly tasty, I think the very best ones come from Cave City. Not that I would turn a Hope melon down though. I seldom buy watermelons at the grocery relying instead on one of the several Farmers’ Markets that I frequent. I’m just picky that way.
Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad
4 – 6 Servings
5 cups seedless watermelon (or seeded) with seeds removed, cut into small chunks or balls (reserve the juice)
1 1/2 – 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half (You can use large varieties of tomatoes, cutting them into small chunks. I like the added color of the yellow or purple cherry tomatoes.)
1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cup thinly sliced Genovese basil (any herb you prefer actually)
1/4 cup minced fresh thyme, optional
6 strawberries, hulled, washed and cut into small cubes, optional
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup crumbled feta (Stilton, Gorgonzola, Maytag blue or Roquefort work well also)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt/2 cup Riesling vinegar (can substitute balsamic or red wine)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the watermelon, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl. Add strawberries if using. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss. Stir in the herbs; add pepper and salt to taste. Stir in the cheese. You can chill this now as is or go ahead and add the dressing. I like to allow at least two hours after adding the dressing before serving. Chill.
Dressing: Combine the vinegar, olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of the reserved watermelon juice (optional) . Whisk well and pour over the watermelon mixture. Stir. Stir again before serving.