Watermelon Feta Salad with Jicama
Watermelon isn't only intended for fruit salad. The one I just grabbed at my local market is so juicy and flavorful I opted for a savory watermelon salad with Greek feta cheese. I also added shredded fried jicama, which is a sweet root vegetable that is used quite often in Vietnamese cuisine (as well as in Mexican food) and mimics the texture of pork skin. The salad lacked a bit of saltiness, so I added soy bacon bits.
I love incorporating fruits in savory dishes. The natural sweetness from the fruit balances the flavors of a salad very well. Next time you have bananas, pears or strawberries in your fruit basket, you might find an alternative to just making desserts.
Yields: 6 servings2-½ cups watermelon
1 jicama (see tips)
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
2 Persian cucumbers
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or regular salt)
½ cup feta, cubed
2 tablespoons soy bacon bits
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 red Thai bird chile (optional), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 limes, zested and freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons walnut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
1 teaspoon pink, green and black peppercorn medley, freshly cracked
Peel and slice the jicama horizontally into ½-inch thick pieces. In a non-stick pan, add oil and fry all the jicama slices until golden brown. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut the pieces into ½-inch cubes. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the seeds, which will create a cavity. Slice the cucumber into ½-inch slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet, and place the cucumber slices on top. Sprinkle Kosher salt on both sides and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the honey, mustard, chopped red Thai bird chile (if used), lime juice with walnut oil. Add the mint and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Stir well. Finish with feta cheese. Set aside.
Cut the watermelon into ½-inch cubes. Gather the watermelon with its juice (the more juice the better) in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the jicama, cucumbers, walnuts and watermelon with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Toss well.
Garnish with extra cilantro.
Jicama is a large sweet, firm root vegetable that is often used in vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine. It's crunchy like an apple and filling like a potato. You can find it in any most supermarket produce sections pr any Vietnamese store; it's called củ sắn.
When I make cucumber salad, I usually scoop out the seeds as they make the salad too watery. Some people like to peel cucumbers; I usually peel 2-3 strips around the vegetable, using a vegetable peeler. If you use the small variety (such as Persian or Mediterranean cucumbers), it's recommended to peel them entirely as the cucumber skin is waxed to seal in moisture for longer shelf life at the market.
If you like the salad less spicy, just omit the chile.
The soy bacon bits add a smoky flavor to the salad and keep the dish vegetarian. If you prefer, you can add the real thing.
You can use different oils. I find that walnut oil adds a pleasant flavor to the salad and it's very healthy used raw. I use La Tourangelle brand oil.
Pink peppercorns have a delicate, fragrant, sweet, and spicy flavor. They are reminiscent of a mild citrus zest and sweet berries. Pink peppercorns work especially well in fruit sauces, vinaigrettes and desserts. These peppercorns have a rich rose color that adds an elegant appearance to any cuisine.Published By: on July 7, 2011.