A new Fourth of July classic

For a quick and easy July 4th warm weather salad, it doesn’t get any better than Watermelon Feta.

According to Google Trends, searches for watermelon and feta cheese salads have been increasing every July for over a decade. To taste is to know why. The bold and refreshing combination is something I could eat several times a week during watermelon season.

I think it’s safe to call it a new classic.

This salad has so few ingredients, you want them all to be as good as possible.

The sweeter the watermelon, the tastier the salad. You can use large, baby, red, or yellow watermelons, whatever is available. Seedless watermelons are easy to find these days and they make the dining experience so much easier.

If you can cool the watermelon before slicing it, your salad is ready to use. If you’re starting with a room-temperature melon, I recommend refrigerating the salad before serving.

And if you prefer to make balls with a melon baller instead of dicing the melon, go for it.

Make sure you save extra for snacks or a watermelon smoothie — no watermelon waste allowed!

Get the best feta you can find, preferably fresh and unpackaged. You can choose from French feta, Greek feta, Bulgarian feta, Lebanese feta… see what your cheese shop has to offer.

Chop or crumble the feta – if you crumble, don’t crumble it too finely. The fun of this salad is in the bites of different flavors, so you don’t want them to blend together too much.

Add some mint and red onion: The contrast between the juicy, sweet melon and the crunchy, sharp, peppery onions (not to mention the crumbly, creamy feta) is amazing. Fresh mint ties everything together for some summer bliss. Mint oxidizes and darkens quickly after being cut or torn, so add it just before assembling and serving the salad.

Finally, use a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic or red wine vinegar and, if desired, some salt and pepper. Taste the feta to see how salty it is before adding salt to the dressing.

You can cut or juice the melon up to 2 days in advance. Drain any juice that has collected at the bottom (and pour into a glass and drink! Delicious!). You can also dice or crumble the feta two days in advance and store all components in the refrigerator. Let it set just before serving the salad. Garnish with a few extra sprigs of fresh mint, if desired.

WATERMELON FETA SALAD

Serves 6

Dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons good balsamic or red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)

Salad:

6 cups watermelon cubed or balled, chilled

½ cup thinly sliced ​​red onion

1 1/2 cups diced or crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup whole mint leaves

In a small bowl or bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, if using.

Divide the salad ingredients evenly and nicely in a large shallow bowl or serving dish. Spread a layer of half the watermelon cubes or balls, then sprinkle half the onions on top and then the feta. Tear half of the mint leaves into large chunks and sprinkle over the feta. Repeat with another layer of watermelon, onions, feta and mint.

Shake or stir the dressing to combine again, then pour it evenly over the salad. Serve cool.

Variations on Watermelon Feta Salad:

Replace the mint with another herb – try chervil, basil or thyme

Add 1 to 2 cups diced seedless cucumber

Replace the feta with crumbled goat cheese, diced fresh mozzarella or ricotta salata

Add a few handfuls of peppered arugula leaves

Katie Workman regularly writes about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at [email protected]

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