This is the second post in a series on How to Use 3lbs of Heirloom Tomatoes. See the first post here.
Tomato watermelon salad is kinda a big deal in the foodie world right now, but it didn’t used to be. A couple years ago, when I first stumbled upon one at an overpriced Mediterranean restaurant in Manhattan Beach, I was cautiously intrigued. See, I generally associate all things watermelon with red plaid tablecloths, seed spitting contests, the overly cliché fruit salad bowls inside watermelons with jagged edge cuts, and watermelon-flavored jolly ranchers (which make me gag), so I don’t go out of my way looking for watermelon (unless I’m running 20 miles on a hot summer day). This watermelon salad caught my attention simply because of the unique, but appealing list of ingredients: watermelon, yellow tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh mint, and honey dressing. Now, didn’t that watermelon just achieve a whole new level of sophistication? I mean…yellow tomatoes…fresh mint…that’s fancy!
And it was a very fancy salad (Manhattan Beach doesn’t tolerate anything that isn’t fancy, actually, so there!) The obvious Mediterranean pairing of tomatoes with salty feta cheese was beautifully complimented with the addition of sweet, crisp watermelon and creamy honey, and the mint brought a bright and fresh flavor to the whole thing. Brilliant! And delicious, of course!
So when my farm boxes started coming overloaded with heirloom tomatoes and watermelons, I knew I’d end up making my own tomato watermelon salad. Timing was such that when I had watermelons and tomatoes, I had no feta. That’s pretty much the story of my life. I did, however, have some cotija cheese leftover from some roasted corn tacos (yum!). Cotija is a crumbly, salty, Mexican cheese that is the object of my current cheese obsession. I thought it might work in my tomato watermelon salad since it has some of the same properties as feta – crumbly, salty, with a bit less bite. Conveniently, I also had some limes hanging out in the fridge, just waiting for their moment to shine (they were admittedly jealous of my previous post about lemons). At that point, having already stepped out of the (veggie) box, I went crazy and dug out my cayenne pepper…just because. Finished it off with some mint from my garden and a drizzle of honey (only because my watermelon was sitting around for too long waiting for me to appreciate it, and lost some sweetness). Delicious! And brilliant, too (if I do say so, myself)!
Tomato Watermelon Salad
1/2 miniature seedless watermelon, chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup cotija cheese (or queso fresco), crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime
pinch of cayenne pepper
sea salt (to taste)
honey (to taste)
few sprigs of fresh mint, chiffonade
Combine watermelon and tomato chunks. Drizzle lime juice olive oil over the tomato and watermelon; toss lightly to distribute the juice & oil.
Top the salad with crumbled cheese and lime zest. Season to taste with a pinch of cayenne, salt. Drizzle a bit of honey over the top for a bit of extra sweetness, and top off the salad with fresh mint.