It probably sounds elementary, but once upon a time I used to think of Salad – capital S – as something that strictly consisted of lettuce, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and possibly a cucumber slice. Essentially, the Olive Garden version of a side dish. Sad.
Once my eyes were opened to the possibilities of adding cheese, nuts, grains, even fruit to the veggies and greens (or not!) a whole new world emerged. Mike started a new job a few weeks ago and the dining options near his office are pretty limited. To keep him sustained through the day I’ve been packing him lunches and thinking of new salad combinations.
Given my recent obsession with grilling basically everything, especially fruit, it was only a matter of time before I started putting grilled fruit IN SALAD. Crazy, I know, but it works! This one layers peppery arugula with slightly smokey grilled watermelon and shavings of salty parmesan. A sprinkle of toasted pine nuts for good measure and you have a salad that’s actually fresh and healthy but doesn’t taste like homework*.
*Not in the notebook paper sense, more in the I’m-only-eating-this-because-I’m-supposed-to sense.
Grilled Watermelon Salad with Arugula & Pine nuts (serves 4)
4 cups or 1/8 large seedless watermelon
4 cups arugula leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 ounces parmesan, shaved
1/3 cup balsamic or yogurt mint dressing (recipe below)
Pre-heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Remove the rind, and slice the watermelon into 1/2 inch thick wedges. Grill in batches for 2-3 minutes per side allowing the watermelon to sear. While the watermelon cooks, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutesover low heat until lightly golden.
Allow the watermelon to cool to room temperature before layering with the arugula leaves, shaved parmesan, and toasted pine nuts. Serve dressed with balsamic vinaigrette or for a lighter option, Yogurt Mint Dressing.
Yogurt Mint Dressing (yield: 2 cups)
6 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 ounces plain or lemon Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the scallions, mint, dill, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until it forms a coarse paste.
Add the Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined. Transfer to a jar or food storage container and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Recipe for Yogurt Mint Dressing very lightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Yogurt Mint Sauce.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a cast iron grill pan (surprise!), a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, y-shaped vegetable peeler, tongs, small skillet, and a small food processor. Measuring spoons and cups, a rubber spatula and a clean jar with a lid round out the tools.
If you couldn't tell, I've been on a bit of a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-ish kick lately, so when I served this salad for the first time it was along side the Greek Lamb with Yogurt Mint Sauce we had the other night. Which is when I discovered that while balsamic dressing is perhaps the more traditional addition, that I actually really like the combination with the cool yogurt and mint. Fresh, delicious, low effort, and an excellent way to cling on to the waning days of summer.