Since I eat watermelon almost everyday of the summer, and since salads are my favorite summertime meal, and since having a plentiful crop of arugula in my garden is a luxury I cherish, creating a perfect watermelon and arugula salad was a feat that was meant to be.
Watermelon and feta cheese salads have recently become popular – a perhaps inevitable occurrence since the appeal of sweet and savory combinations has made its mark on the culinary landscape. The inclusion of arugula, however, is not the norm. Mint is customary and does add a welcome vibrancy, but arugula provides a peppery dimension that balances wonderfully with the saltiness of the feta and the sweetness of the watermelon,and so it has become essential to me.
I serve this as a salad course instead of a leafy green salad, and I prepare the various components ahead of time but avoid combining them until the last minute. Watermelon will render too much of its juice if allowed to sit in the dressing for too long. I measured out the ingredients to my liking, but of course, this is the kind of dish that insists you fiddle with it to please your own palate.
Watermelon Salad with Arugula and Feta Cheese
7 cups cubed seedless watermelon (nice and cold)
2 slices sweet Vidalia onion, separated into rings, larger rings cut in to half moons
1 cup loosely packed arugula, leaves torn in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup finely cubed feta cheese
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Combine the watermelon, onion, arugula, mint, and feta cheese in a large bowl.
2. Beat together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper and pour over the watermelon mixture, being careful not to break up the feta too much. (I like to use a rubber spatula to do this.) Serve in pretty bowls.