Sunday, July 28, 2013

Watermelon-Feta-Arugula Salad with Serrano Chili Vinaigrette

I know I referenced this recipe weeks ago and promised to post about it.  And then I didn't.  This isn't going to be the longest post ever but I know myself and if I don't get something up about it now it's not going to happen.  So here goes.  This recipe was the first recipe we made from Hugh Achesons' cookbook and I loved it.  The serrano chili vinaigrette is not shy - it's spicy.  But it works really nicely with the sweet watermelon.  If you don't like spice, you should cut the number of chilis in half (or seed some of the chilis).  We like spice so we went whole hog, but I think it would be a little too spicy for a lot of people.  Anyway, I know we have made a number of watermelon salads on this blog (I have a thing for watermelon salad), but this might have been my favorite one ever.  It had a perfect balance of salty, sweet and spice.  Sometimes the cheese can throw off the sweetness and freshness of the watermelon (particularly if your watermelon isn't very sweet), but this salad retained all of the fresh and bright flavors that I love and added some kick.  We did cut back on the amount of cheese slightly, but that was due to the fact that we ran out (not because I made the strategic decision to do so).  I thought the amount of feta was fine as we made it so I will probably continue to use a little less cheese than the amount the recipe calls for in future watermelon salads.  But if you want a fun and funky take on a classic summertime treat, make this salad.  If your tastes are at all similar to mine, you will love it.

Recipe after the jump!

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Arugula and Serrano Chili Vinaigrette
Adapted from A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen 
By Hugh Acheson

For the Serrano Chile Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (the recipe calls for thyme but we didn't have any)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the salad:
6 tbsp serrano chili vinaigrette
1 medium seedless watermelon, skin and rind removed and cut into chunks
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
1/4 lb baby arugula
1/2 tsp kosher salt
5-6 oz feta, very roughly crumbled

Combine the olive, lime juice, vinegar, shallot, chili, mint, and salt  in a mason jar, tighten the lid, and shake vigorously.

Place the watermelon, chilis, and arugula in large bowl.  Add half of the vinaigrette. Season lightly with salt.  Very gently toss in the feta.  Drizzle with additional chili vinaigrette. 

Serve immediately.

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