Monday, May 23, 2011

Mint and Watermelon Salad

See how I put that sprig of mint right on top, there? Classy.
I learned this recipe from some friends of ours who are in the choir with Miriam and me. It's really simple, and it makes a great summertime dish, because it requires no cooking. It is a good idea to make it ahead of time, though, because the mint needs to sit with the watermelon for a while to really get its flavor out there.

This dish works as a good dessert. Watermelon is sweet, and the mint changes it up enough that you won't feel like it's something you've had a million times. You could also bring it to the neighborhood barbecue, because a whole watermelon is a lot of food. Nutritionally, you have to watch out for the sugar in watermelon, but it also has such a high water content that it's hard to eat too much. You also get a healthy dose of vitamins in the melon, so if you're looking for a sweet finish to your dinner, this is a pretty good way to go.

Also, this recipe is dead simple. You mix watermelon and mint together. Since that would be a dull post, I thought I'd take the opportunity to show how I cut up a whole watermelon, since that's the hardest part, and a fruit that size can be intimidating.

That mint was growing wild in my yard. It doesn't get much more paleo than that.


1 watermelon (I recommend a seedless watermelon)
Approximately 15 large mint leaves


Large Knife
Large Bowl (A bowl with a lid is recommended)

Start cutting up the watermelon by using a large knife to cut a circle from each end of the melon. Try not to cut off any more of the red part of the melon than absolutely necessary.

This step will keep the melon from rolling all over the place while you try to cut it.

Stand the melon upright so that it is resting on one of the cut ends. Begin cutting slices of rind off of the melon by cutting from the edge of the top circle down toward the middle of the melon.

If the melon were a globe, you'd be cutting from the arctic circle to the equator.

Continue cutting slices of the rind off all the way around the melon. Remove as little of the red part of the melon as possible. When you're done, the rind should be completely removed from the top half of the melon.

You can also trim off any little bits of white.

Cut a slice horizontally at the top of the melon. For this dish, your slices should be about an inch thick.

A big knife helps when working with something as large as a watermelon.

Cut the slice into bite-sized chunks.

The slices on the very ends of the melon got cut into nine pieces. All the others I cut into 16.

Continue cutting slices until you have finished cutting up the top half of the melon.

You can see lines from where I cut the last slice into pieces without taking it off the top of the melon.

Now, remove the second half of the rind using the same technique that you used for the top half. This time, cut from the middle of the melon toward the bottom.

As always, remove as little of the red part as possible.

Place all of your watermelon chunks into a large bowl.

It's easiest if you add them to the bowl as you cut them.
Otherwise you have to deal with a mountain of chunks all at once.
Now it's time to chop the mint. It's easiest if you stack all of your leaves together and kind of roll them up. Then you can slice the leaves all at once.

Stacking them all up makes things go a lot faster.

The mint shouldn't be too finely chopped. If I had to describe it, I'd call it a "coarse chiffonade," but unless you're a food nerd, that phrase might not mean anything, so look at the picture:

See? "Coarse chiffonade." Right there.

Add the mint to the watermelon, and gently mix the two together to distribute the mint evenly. Be gentle, so that you don't crush the watermelon too badly.

I used a big spoon to mix everything. Choose your own favorite implement.

For best results, let the salad sit, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. The flavors will come together as it sits.

  • This recipe makes a lot of food. If you're not making it for a large group, it will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
  • I wouldn't put this in the indulgences category, even though watermelon has sugar in it. That said, I wouldn't eat a ton of it at every meal. Luckily, it's hard to eat a ton of watermelon at once, so you'll probably naturally limit yourself to a reasonable portion.
  • I definitely suggest using a seedless watermelon for this dish. Obviously, they don't have seeds, so it's easier to eat them in polite company. Also, they tend to be a little smaller than regular watermelons, so they're easier to handle, and you end up with a more reasonable amount of food.
  • I don't know if it's just me, but mint grows all over my yard whether I want it to or not. If you don't have the same "problem," you can almost always find fresh mint in the grocery store. I've never tried this with dried mint. It might work, but I'd definitely let it sit a while to rehydrate the mint.
  • If you do use "yard mint," make sure you wash it. You should probably also avoid using any mint from that corner of the yard where the dog likes to hang out.

1 comment:

  1. Fresh basil is a great alternative to mint in this dish. It gives a completely different flavor.