The simplest summer salad

Heeral Shivnani/Staff

The whole point of eating a salad is to be able to taste every ingredient as it is, i.e. in its most natural, unaltered state. Indeed, that’s only possible when you keep your condiments or dressing to a bare minimum. Most incarnations of watermelon salads make use of a light vinaigrette dressing, which after you try our version, will seem completely redundant.

At Eating Berkeley, we like to relish the sweetness of juicy pink watermelon with just a little salty feta and a sprinkle of bitter, sharp greens. That’s it! That’s all you need. After all, what more is needed when you have a trio of quality ingredients balancing each other so well? Not to forget how instantaneously this allows you to create a very visually-appealing salad, with the right balance of phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins.

Here’s how you should go about preparing this refreshing conversation starter:

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

Step 1: Picking the greens you are going to serve is the very first thing you need to think through. Authentically, the Middle Eastern variety of rocket (arugula), known locally as “jarjeer” or “rocca” is used, complemented by mint leaves. However, basil is a great alternative, as are baby beet greens, watercress or even the rather nutrient-dense baby spinach.

 

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

Step 2: De-seed each slice of the watermelon diligently to render a smoother eating experience later on (especially to avoid having your guests vexed at the dining table!). Then, preferably chop the fruit into medium-sized chunks. This not only prepares the melon quicker for use in salads, but also helps retain a lot more vitamins than would be found in smaller cubes.

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

Step 3: While transferring the packet of feta cheese into a bowl, retain just a little bit of the water and drain away the rest. This way, you can chop the cheese into little cubes and refrigerate them for a couple of hours without letting them dry out or stiffen. Here’s the best bit: when the cheese crumbles in the process of eating and blends with the watermelon juice, you will obtain the ideal creamy dressing!

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Heeral Shivnani/Staff

Step 4: Wash each of your chosen greens separately in a colander as you want each person on the dining table to add their own desired quantity of each type. While the smaller-leaved species, such as mint or basil, need not be further trimmed in size — you may want to tear the larger rocket leaves slightly with your hands. As in the case of the watermelon, by minimizing use of the metal knife we are trying to preserve more nutrients here as well.

Once the three main components are ready, place each in different salad bowls and watch your guests have a gala time. Although beware: what may start out as an appetizer, tends to become a semi-meal in itself. So do plan to space out the arrival of the mains following this watermelon dream.

Enjoy!

Contact Heeral Shivnani at [email protected].