Watermelons are a big thing in my family. Actually, I think they might be a big thing in everyone's family. I think my family's obsession stems from my father; whose love of watermelon sometimes brings into question whether the love between man and fruit should really reach such heights. For him, a watermelon is a delicate thing, every stage has an intricate process. When we go to the market to pick out a watermelon he'll spend 15 to 20 minutes in ritual carefully choosing which watermelon we'd take back home with us. I don't know if this is a family thing (I mean we've never been great athletes or scholars but we may have the watermelon game down to a tee) but my dad seems to have an inner understanding of the complexities of the humble watermelon. He knows the significance of each shade of green on the outer skin and what each bump signifies (like a watermelon phrenologist) which helps him to consistently pick the most ripe, the most beautiful watermelons. So you can gather that this time of year our house is full of wonderful watermelons that are asking to be used up in creative ways and I think I have a really easy summery recipe to do just that.
Watermelon and feta is not a new combination to most Lebanese people. It's a flavour pairing that has been around since my parents were in their youth (in the 60's) and it's a favourite summer snack around our household. It's rarely ever made into a salad but I think it works with a few added twists. I've used Greek feta in this recipe but my parents prefer using a Bulgarian cheese which is not too dissimilar to the Hellenic variety but has a more complex flavour. I've also included a few chopped almonds for a bit of a different texture but you can exclude them if you so wish. Here it is:
500g watermelon - diced
115g feta cheese or similar - diced
handful of fresh mint - chopped
handful of fresh basil - torn
small handful of roasted almonds - finely chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
a little black pepper
2-3 shallots - really finely diced
This may just be the simplest recipe yet. Brace yourselves...
Mix all the ingredients together. Let it sit for a few minutes. Try not to break up the cubes of cheese. Garnish with mint and serve with a side of olives.