Here’s a fun confession: I’m a terrible eater. I’ve taken to laughing and telling people to “eat as I cook, not as I eat” when they suggest that I must eat amazingly as I serve them what I’ve prepared. The truth is that while doing the shopping for them, I forget to shop for myself (or choose not to for various reasons including checkout line politeness and tax math). As a result, I often wind up grabbing something as sustaining yet healthy as I can find from some grab-and-go section, or even sometimes rolling through McDonalds for a trusty #2 (no mustard, yellow mustard is the mustard of sociopaths) on my way to the job. That is if I even remember to eat, which doesn’t happen as often as any medical professional (or all-around reasonable person) would like. Eating before 2pm is a rare triumph that I celebrate by texting my friends who remind me that if I were normal I would be a hangry hellbeast like the rest of them. (Relevant side note: this doesn’t even elicit the culturally positive result of being “perfectly” skinny, so don’t go getting jealous of my un-mandated dietary restrictiveness.)
Preparing food requires a lot of tasting-as-you-go to check seasonings and mouthfeel, so hunger doesn’t often register until I’m back home, out of my chef clogs, and entirely unwilling to prepare something for myself that takes more than 10 minutes. This is why “family meal” exists in restaurants. You might say “enter: the sandwich, dingus!”, but I try not to keep bread around too often. That said, if there isn’t bread around, I’m probably not eating. If there is bread, I’m probably making a BLT. Every other 10-minute meal feels like a carb bomb that I don’t need late at night, or too light and healthy to put a dent in what is now a pit in my stomach as deep and dark as my abyss of a soul.
So, I’m making an effort to do some sort of meal prep. I can’t (read: won’t) do a giant cook-off for myself of things I can then portion into containers and store in the fridge because 1. I’m too fickle about cravings, 2. After 2 days that shit is just SADDDDDD, 3. After I’ve done giant cook-offs for clients I’m in no mood to do that again and not get paid for it, and 4. The ease of meal prep comes with ease of recipes, and I can’t just grill off a piece of chicken; it needs some interest and interest takes time. What I can easily do is make big batches of lettuce-free salads that get better with time and maceration.
Last week I made a huge batch of greek salad and was truly so proud of myself that I felt sure that I was on the road to my best life. I should bottle the juice that forms at the bottom of that bowl and mix it with vodka for a brunch shot; mimosas can take a seat.
This week I want to make a different salad I’ve been making for clients and bringing to pot lucks (hint hint holiday weekend!). It’s so simple, fairly unexpected, takes nearly no time to make, and a big batch of the dressing works well with almost any summer salad that incorporates fruit (I also use it on a salad with nectarines, balsamic caramelized cippolini onions and hazelnuts). Bonus point: you can use the juice that gathers at the bottom to make a yummy little tequila cocktail or shot chaser!
1. Pick up two of the same size and always choose the heavier one. I tend to pick up between 5-7 for comparison but I’m the most anal retentive produce shopper you’ll likely see in the grocery store.2. Look for one that has a bright yellow patch. This means the melon wasn’t moved much during growth, letting the flavors really concentrate.
3. Seedless is important, save the seeded watermelons for the kiddos, they love to have spitting contests.
4. If you’re unsure between two watermelons, knock on them like you would a door. The one that sounds the densest is the one to go with.
Watermelon Serrano Salad
For the Dressing
- 1 1/2cups Coarsely chopped mint
- 1tablespoon Flat leaf parsley
- 1Small shallot, coarsely chopped
- 2Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1teaspoon Light brown sugar
- 1/2teaspoon Salt
- 1/2teaspoon Black pepper
- 1/4cup White balsamic or champagne vinegar
- 3/4cup Grapeseed oil
For the Salad
- 1Small, seedless watermelon
- 1Large serrano chili
- 1/2cup Greek feta, crumbled
- Combine all of the dressing ingredients but the oil in a food processor or high powered blender and blitz until well chopped and combined. With the blade running, slowly drizzle in the oil until emulsified. Check for seasoning and set aside.
- Supreme the watermelon by cutting the ends off, standing it on it's butt and slicing away at the rind. If you're right handed, turn the watermelon clockwise as you go so that you can see how thick the rind is and not waste too much flesh. If you're a lefty, putcha name down flip it and reverse it.
- Halve the watermelon from head to ass, then flop it on its middle and turn it into 1/2" slices. From there, cube it and toss it into a bowl.
- If you have a mandoline, use that to slice your serrano into fairly thin slices. Think somewhere between a sandwich slice of turkey and a charcuterie board slice of prosciutto. If you don't have a mandoline, a sharp knife will work just as well.
- Combine the watermelon and serrano in a bowl and toss. At this point you can add a half teaspoon of salt to let those flavors hang out and macerate on the counter releasing their juices for an hour or so, or start building in your serving bowl.
- Layer one layer of the watermelon and serrano mixture, crumble a bit of feta on top, drizzle about 2 teaspoons of dressing over it and repeat, building layers of flavor.
- Top with the remaining feta and a few mint leaves for garnish, drizzle another tablespoon of dressing on for good measure and serve!