As Previously Mentioned, the concept of this dish is very simple.
Watermelon + Feta (or feta-like-vegan-cheese) + Balsamic Vinegar + Fresh Basil + Pistachios
Potentially, you could toss these things together in any arrangement and achieve a tasty result.
For this particular recipe I find it helpful to wick some of the juiciness away from the watermelon. These are the steps I took:
Cut watermelon into desired sized pieces (either discarding the rind, or saving it to make fermented watermelon rind pickles like these)
Spread the pieces of watermelon out over several layers of absorbent material (e.g. dish towels or paper towels) and leave in the open air for several hours (I prepared mine before I went to bed and let it sit out overnight. If you have a large container, you may line it with towels and spread the watermelon in a single layer and let it chill in the fridge, uncovered.)
Now, if you want to really Kick-It-Up-a-Notch, you could make your own Watermelon Balsamic Reduction Glaze!
Ingredients for Glaze:
1 cup Fresh watermelon
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Instructions for the Glaze:
Puree the watermelon and the vinegar until smooth.
Transfer liquid into a large sauté pan, and bring to a simmer.
Allow liquid to reduce by (at least) half, stirring periodically.
Remove from heat once glaze has reached its desired thickness and allow it to cool completely.
See? Making your own glaze wasn’t too incredibly complicated.
Now if you want to want to make a salad, this would be the time to do it.
Example of Ingredients for Salad:
6 cups cut watermelon
1 cup shredded fresh basil
1 cup crumbled feta (or vegan feta-like cheese)
1/2 cup chopped pistachios (optional)
¼-1/2 cup balsamic glaze
Instructions for Salad:
Toss the watermelon, feta and basil, and allow to chill at least one hour. Toss with glaze and sprinkle with pistachios immediately before serving.
*tip: the fermented vegan cheese recipe I used made a super delicious SOFT cheese. It would not be ideal for the salad.
Or maybe you have loads and loads of energy and free time and want to take this recipe even further? Try these elegant and delicious hors d’oeuvre and Amuse Your Mouth!
Ingredients for Amuse-bouche:
20 large basil leaves
20 1-2 inch pieces of watermelon
¼ cup balsamic glaze (see recipe above)
1/3 cup fermented vegan cheese (OR feta with a dab of yogurt, blended to a moldable dough consistency)
½ cup chopped pistachios (optional)
3 cups water
Instructions for the Basil:
Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Submerge the basil leaves in the water for 30-60 seconds, then remove from water and run under a cold tap to stop the cooking process. Spread the leaves out on an absorbent surface and pat dry.
Instructions for Watermelon:
Cut watermelon into desired shapes. Follow tips described at top of blog for wicking moisture away from watermelon pieces. Allow watermelon to chill in the refrigerator while preparing the next elements.
Instruction for the cheese:
Form cheese into 1/2 tsp balls. If desired, roll them in ground pistachio nuts. If cheese is very soft, place in the freezer temporarily to allow it to firm.
Wrap a basil leaf around each cheese ball. I have found that a little dab of balsamic glaze under the ends of the basil leaf does a nice job of securing it in place.
Options for assembly:
If you have made your own watermelon balsamic reduction, you have had control over its final consistency, and therefore which options you have for presentation. You may choose to make a balsamic smear on a plate, then stack the watermelon and cheeseball on top.
OR You may choose to stack the water melon and cheeseball, then drizzle the glaze artfully on top.
OR You may choose to make a thicker reduction (this is my method), and use the glaze as a paste for securing the cheeseball to the watermelon.
Whatever the format, this dish is bound to delight!