What’s not to love about watermelon, especially when it is in season and bursting with refreshing flavor? It’s perfect for a picnic or great alongside a plate of just-grilled meats.
This year, more and more local chefs are using watermelon in salads and entrêes in ways that go far beyond the norm. Chef John Brand of La Mansión del Rio and Ostra on the River Walk served slabs of watermelon alongside hamachi sashimi during a recent Culinaria luncheon at Becker Vineyards, while The Monterey served it in a salad with feta cheese, dried olive and heirloom tomatoes.
The great thing about most of these recipes is that you can make them at home, layering the ingredients mentioned to your taste. Think about a watermelon margarita with a touch of lime, tequila and just a hint of orange liqueur mixed with watermelon juice and ice to your taste.
At a recent fundraiser for HeartGift, five chefs from around the city made various dishes pairing watermelon with everything from jumbo shrimp cocktail with watermelon from Cabo Seafood to a watermelon pavé with cilantro pearls and black sesame sponge cake from the RK Group. Heather Nañez of Bohanan’s seared hamachi and topped with a watermelon salsa, while Patricia Wenckus of Auden’s Kitchen crisped up prosciutto, adding a little salty flavor that the fruit seems to love.
Damien Watel of Bistro Vatel offered up an elegant, easy salad, the recipe for which appears below.
HeartGift is a San Antonio charity that flies children with congenital heart defects from around the world here so that they can be operated on for free. The event raised $23,000. According to HeartGift executive director Cathy Siegel, “Our spring season of events offered guests an opportunity to participate in a series of fine dining adventures while providing the gift of life-saving heart surgery to a child from a country where treatment is unavailable or inaccessible. With the success of this series of events, we are now able to bring another child to San Antonio for heart surgery.”
For more on HeartGift, click here.
What do you like to do with watermelon? Add a cube or two to a vodka martini? Serve it with fried shrimp? Smoke it in your barbecue pit? (It has been done.) Post your favorite ideas below.
Damien Watel’s Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad
Watermelon cubes, to taste
Ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces similar in size to the watermelon, to taste
Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Rice wine vinegar, to taste
Basil or flat-leaf parsley, to taste
Salt, to taste (optional)
Mix watermelon and tomatoes. Sprinkle feta on top. Drizzle olive oil and a touch of rice wine vinegar. Garnish with some microgreen herbs, such as basil, or finely chopped basil or parsley, to taste. Salt, if desired.
Adapted from Damien Watel