My friends know I like to eat healthy. So when they have parties, more often than not, I’m asked to bring a salad. It happened the other day, and it’s happening again this weekend. And you know what? They’ve come to the right guy!
I love salads. I love trying new things. I love cooking for other people, and bringing a delicious dish with lots of flavor that’s also guilt-free. For this party, I wanted to celebrate summer flavors, and give them a twist.
So I decided to grill some watermelon. Longtime readers with sharp memories may recall that about four years ago, I “grilled” some watermelon in my RediSetGo, a countertop infomercial product that I used to use all the time.
Now I have a grill pan, given to me by my friend Jen, so now I can grill for reals. I preheated it so it was nice and hot, sprinkled some chili powder and turmeric on some big thick slabs of watermelon, and tossed them on the grill.
Chili powder and fruit, by the way, is a common snack in many Spanish-speaking countries. Since there’s a huge Spanish-speaking population here in LA, you can find fruit vendors near my house, and they all sell fruit with chili powder. Packaged dried mangoes with chili is in nearly every convenience store.
Grilled watermelon is delicious. It’s denser and more complex, and not as light and crisp as uncooked watermelon. Give it a try sometime, in this recipe, or just on it’s own. You just leave it on the grill until you get some nice grill marks. For me, it took five or six minutes on each side. Let it rest after cooking, and be warned… some of the juice will run out.
I grilled six watermelon “fillets,” and after 10 minutes of resting, I chopped them into cubes. They went into a big bowl, to which I added:
- 3 cucumbers, chopped into chunks the same size as the watermelon. (I cut cucumbers lengthwise first, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds, just so all that liquidy part at the center doesn’t end up in my salad.)
- 3/4 cup peas, which I sauteed for a few minutes in 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. (I bought one pound of fresh peas, and hand-shelled them, and 3/4 cup was my yield.)
- Two big handfuls fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, coarsely chopped.
- One 4 oz container of crumbled goat cheese. This went in last, and because both the watermelon and peas were still slightly warm, the cheese got warm and creamy, and coated everything really nicely, like a dressing.
Guess what? It was delicious. Creamy, crunchy, fresh, and the grilled watermelon added a different spin. And thanks to the little bit of oil with the peas and the goat cheese, no additional dressing was needed, and it wasn’t missed.
Try it out and let me know what you think. One friend suggested a simple addition: just a few bacon bits, and you know what? That’s a great idea.
One salad is now but a memory… time to get started thinking about what kind of salad I’m going to bring to the next party this weekend! Any suggestions?
Keep it up, David!