Tomato Watermelon Salad
We are not gardeners. Carl likes to say that he can only grown one kind of perennial (winegrapes), and I don't ever claim to have a thumb green enough to grown anything. What we've found, though, is that during the height of the summer growing season, we don't need to know how to grow stuff; we just need to know the people who know how to grow stuff. When the bounty of others spills over their needs, we're the happy recipients of those extra veggies. Sometimes it's tomatoes; other times it's cucumbers and zucchini.
(My dad--a successful gardener himself--tells the story of a wheelbarrow that a gardening neighbor put out in their yard. It was full of homegrown zucchini, and there was a sign reading "FREE." The neighbor was puzzled to find, at the end of the afternoon, that there were many more zucchini overflowing the wheelbarrow than there had been at the start of the day. Seems that his neighbors were likewise squash-endowed.)
This year, more than ever, I've done a good job of finding tasty uses for all of the fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs we get from our CSA (Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative) and generous friends. This week, we got wonderfully ripe tomatoes from our sales manager Steve. Realizing that we also currently had an overflow of similarly-hued fresh watermelons, I set about to put together a tomato watermelon salad. I browsed through different recipes online and came up with a plan that would combine the two fruits, spiced oil, and feta cheese. (Another good thing these days is how well my "COVID kitchen" stays stocked--I spend quite a lot of time each week making sure our pantry stays stocked, so that visits to the grocery can be placed strategically.)
My kitchen these days also has more gadgets and implements than ever before, and I am actually using some things for the very first time. I now have a satisfyingly weighty stone mortar and pestle for grinding spices when I'm making Mexican or Indian meals. I put this to use, grinding together peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds, which I infused into olive oil by heating them together on the stove.
When the oil cooled, I drizzled it over the tomatoes, seeded watermelon, and feta, and then I sprinkled flaked sea salt over everything. (I have always enjoyed eating watermelon and cantaloupe with a bit of salt sprinkled on, to add another note to the sweet flavors.) It was tasty in a surprising way, and quite refreshing. We paired it successfully with Allegro's food-happy Riesling.
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