Probably a childish game but I sometimes enjoy asking others what one thing—book, tool, food, CD or movie—they would choose to have on a deserted island. Another question is something like, ‘If you could have only one dessert in the whole world, what would you choose?’ Asked what I would choose if there could be only one fruit from tomorrow onward, my answer without a moment’s hesitation would be, “Watermelon, watermelon and more watermelon.” Like many who line up for ice cream at Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s in the dead of winter, I could enjoy watermelon sitting on a snowbank.
Someone passed over to me a recipe last week, and as soon as I looked down and saw the name it quickly became something I wanted to try. The combination of three main ingredients struck me right off as a potentially delicious medley, and though unsure about a couple of other ingredients, it was still an enticing recipe and easy enough to modify if the first go-round turned out not quite right. One perennial favorite at meals is a salad, most often green with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and avocado. But those requirements are not strict and other types of salad occasionally find their way to my plate. The alternative below is both inexpensive and easy to prepare.
TOMATO AND WATERMELON SALAD
5 cups seeded watermelon cubes (approximately ¼ of a whole large melon)
3 large ripe tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces.
½ medium red onion halved and thinly sliced
7-8 whole leaves of romaine lettuce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
Cracked black pepper
Fresh mint for garnish
Combine the watermelon, tomato and red onion in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and sugar and toss well. Allow to stand for about 15 minutes. Add the olive oil and vinegar and toss once more. Because the watermelon and tomatoes contain a lot of water, drain the excess off after the last mix. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour. Line a salad bowl with the romaine lettuce so that the leaves resemble the petals of a flower. Scoop the watermelon salad into the bowl with the lettuce providing a bed and border. Add some cracked black pepper, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve. The amounts above will provide enough for 3-4 people, 5 if the servings are small.
Depending on appetite, the salad alone may be enough for lunch or a light dinner. I served it with cold roast chicken, the two together a bountiful meal. An especially good salad for a hot summer day—Bon appétit!