Sunday, June 5, 2011

Melon Berry-licious Salad

Last week I discovered that Bobby Flay has a new show called "Grill It!" (Or at least I think it's new. I happened to catch it on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and I'm not very often tuned into the Food Network at that time.) I immediately told Bill that he needs to figure out how to get on this show because the entire premise is Bobby cooking with a viewer. He makes his recipe and the guest viewer makes his or her similar dish. It's kind of like "Throwdown," without the cut-throat competition. (Read: not as much fun, but you don't have to be a local celebrity to get on an episode.)

I can imagine Bill challenging Bobby to a rib-off on this show. But until we make that happen, I guess I'm going to have to settle for trying out some of the other recipes. One of the episodes I caught had Bobby and  a guest grilling rib eyes, which looked delicious, but not as delicious as the watermelon-respberry-feta salad the viewer paired with her steak.

I had heard that watermelon and feta make an awesome pair, as odd as it may sound. But the addition of raspberries and a red wine vinaigrette took this over the top. I was skeptical about Bill's willingness to try it, but he told me he'd try anything I make (not true ... I guarantee he'll turn down anything with beans in it). Given that, I thought I'd take the plunge and give this a shot.

Watermelon Raspberry Feta Salad
1/4 watermelon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 carton raspberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch cayenne
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped

Toss watermelon, raspberries, and feta together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together onion, vinegar, olive oil, vanilla, salt, and cayenne. Pour over watermelon mixture and toss to combine. Sprinkle with mint and serve chilled.

Note: The original recipe called for one step and one ingredient I skipped. First, the watermelon was supposed to be grilled to better bring out the sugar in the fruit. I'm sure that would have been delicious, but after cutting a whole watermelon (only a quarter of which I was actually using in the recipe), I was exhausted. Second, there was supposed to be something called "vanilla salt" in this recipe. I've never met vanilla salt, but I would like to be introduced. That sounds amazing. Since I have no idea where to find it, and haven't had a chance to search it out yet, I had to do a little improv with the dressing. I added a scant amount of vanilla extra and a pinch of salt to the vinaigrette, hoping to achieve a similar flavor. I'm sure that's not a good substitute for the real thing, but it was the best I could do.

For flavors that you wouldn't necessarily think to find together (watermelon and vinegar? raspberries and feta?), this was actually quite good. It was sort of unexpected, but definitely refreshing. And true to his word, Bill tried it. It certainly wasn't a favorite of his (he claimed not to like the mint, but I suspect it was more than that), but I'm proud of him for giving it a shot.

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