Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Story by Holly
Watermelon Cucumber Salad
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If you're a consistent follower of TMP, I'm sure by now you're tired of Natalie and I taking turns each week telling you the many reasons we love summer. But really...we LOVE it. And while I can't speak for Natalie, I know what I love best about this glorious season is the variety of gorgeous produce just bursting with flavor available at our finger tips, and for many of us, right in our own backyards. There's just nothing like planning your meals, snacks and even cocktails around what's growing in the garden.


The result was just different enough to keep me coming back for more, and I found it a beautiful accompaniment to a great variety of summer meals...

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

If you live in the northwest, you might recall that last summer (unlike this one) was an absolute scorcher. It was hotter than any summer I can recall growing up here, in the Portland area. According to one of our local news channels it was the "hottest summer ever recorded in Portland.” What may have felt like a walk in the park to any transplant southerners that were here was anything but for this PNW native.

One of the perks to a heat wave that lasts through the summer, as many of us discovered, was that our gardens were overflowing with the bounty of produce many times over what it would normally yield. And because the warm streak started so early in the year (hitting mid 60s on a sunny day back in February) people were making some bold choices, planting early and planting variety in their gardens they might otherwise be too cautious to attempt. Call me a nerd, but I love hearing the stories of large crop yields, who grew what, what thrived when it shouldn't have, etc. I may be biased, but one of my favorite garden success stories (and there were many) to come out of last year came from my six year old nephew. He had gotten ahold of a package of watermelon seeds and planted every last one of them haphazardly in my mom's backyard. There were seeds everywhere, but most ended up in my mom’s flower beds. And I kid you not, by late August there was a watermelon crop like you've never seen coming from all corners of the yard.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

My nephew’s abundant crop provided me ample opportunity to create and consume a plethora of watermelon dishes over the course of the summer (because after a while as delicious as it is, eating it in slices can get old). One of my favorite watermelon dishes for years has been a simple salad consisting of just four ingredients: arugula, watermelon, feta and a balsamic reduction. As I made and enjoyed this salad over and over throughout the season, I thought it was time to switch it up a bit. The adaptation I came up with included the original arugula, watermelon and feta, but I began adding cucumbers and a poppyseed dressing made with white balsamic vinegar. The result was just different enough to keep me coming back for more, and I found it a beautiful accompaniment to a great variety of summer meals, from simple grilled chicken, to hot dogs, to one dish among many at more elaborate evening get togethers.

Even though this summer is much more mild (for better or worse, depending on when and whom you ask), my prodigy of a nephew is at it again. Encouraged by his successes he has planted more watermelon, and though we don't have the same heat to spur it along, I have no doubts we will all benefit from his hard work. Perks of being an auntie! If you're not as fortunate as I am to have a watermelon growing machine in fam, have no fear, your local market is providing some truly sweet and crispy beauties right now. Make sure to get one, or two, or twenty, while they're at their peak and indulge in this beautiful salad before the beautiful produce of summer is just a memory.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Serves 8

Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp popply seeds

Salad

1 5 oz package of baby arugula
1 (2lb) watermelon, or roughly 6 cups, cubed
1/2 english cucumber, sliced
6 oz feta, crubled
16 basil leaves

Method

  1. Place olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and honey in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse a few times to emulsify the dressing. Add salt and poppy seeds, stir with a spoon to incorporate. Set dressing aside.
  2. Place arugula on a platter, cover with cucumbers and watermelon. Sprinkle with feta. Make a stack out of the basil leaves. Roll them in either direction and thinly slice them to make ribbons. Toss evenly over the salad. Drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!