The first cookbook I ever bought with my own money is titled The Fine Art of Garnishing. It came packaged with 5 small tools which enabled me to turn a radish into a rose, an apple into a bird, and, most importantly, carve a watermelon. For one summer cookout after another, I carved watermelons to serve fruit salad. Family photos reveal watermelons carefully crafted to resemble whales, Viking sailing ships, and baskets.
We’d scoop out the watermelons using a melon baller, and toss the fruit with cantaloupe, honeydew, peaches and berries. While I still love a good fruit salad, there are meals when I want my watermelon dressed a little more elegantly. The savory flavors of bright vinegar, bitter greens and sharp cheese balance delightfully with sugary fruits. They are the perfect companion to anything smoky and charred from the grill.
I suppose, if you’re going to use such sophisticated ingredients, you should probably present them more formally. May I suggest a watermelon?
Watermelon Gorgonzola Salad
- 6 cups watermelon cut in 1” cubes
- 2 cups baby arugula, loosely packed
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/3 cup Cava Rosé, or other light, red wine vinegar*
- 1 tsp honey
- 2/3 cups olive oil – the good stuff!
- 1 cup chilled, crumbled gorgonzola cheese
*Cava Rosé is a wonderful summer introduction from our friends at Sapore. I paired it with Koroneiko, a light, grassy, Greek olive oil.
- Toss together watermelon and arugula in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together shallot, vinegar and honey.
- Whisk olive oil into vinegar mixture to form a thick, creamy emulsion.
- Stir cheese crumbles into vinaigrette and taste with a cube of watermelon.
- Season dressing to taste with additional salt, pepper, vinegar or oil and lightly dress watermelon and arugula.
- If making this ahead, keep the watermelon separate. It will release water which will dilute your dressing and wilt the arugula.