Whenever I hear of recipes that incorporate fruit into otherwise savory dishes, I am always a little turned off. And then I try it and am amazed at how well the flavors actually meld together. I’ve seen watermelon intriguingly added to salads quite a bit lately. So when I saw a recipe for a watermelon-feta salad in The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia, I decided that, skewer-ized, it would make the perfect light and refreshing appetizer for a summer party.
Served with an oregano and currant balsamic vinaigrette, adapted from the same book, this simple recipe had the perfect combination of sweet, salty and tangy, and with the soft, warm feta atop the crunchy, cool watermelon — it was like a party in your mouth! The amounts below should be sufficient for a large party.
Watermelon, feta and basil skewers with balsamic dressing
One small watermelon, cubed
4 blocks of feta (make sure it is made with sheep or sheep and goat milk)
Large bunch of basil leaves (I used purple and green basil)
Crushed red pepper
For the dressing
1/4 cup dried currants (you can substitute raisins)
1 garlic clove
pinch coarse-grind sea salt
1 small shallot, finely chopped
4 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
Zest and juice of 1/4 orange
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
Roast the feta: cut into large slabs, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with chilies and broil in the oven for about five to eight minutes, until it starts to brown around the edges. Return to room temperature before dicing into cubes.
Attach watermelon cubes, feta and a piece of basil to a toothpick or decorative skewer.
And that’s pretty much it.
To make the dressing –
Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Soak the currants in this water for about 20 minutes. Remove and finely chop.
Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with the salt.
Whisk the olive oil slowly yet vigorously into the liquid ingredients until combined. Add the garlic, shallot, currants, zest, oregano, etc. Serve with the skewers.