Watermelon Salad

Have you been watching “The Next Food Network Star”? It’s a good show: an honest look at what it takes to become an on-air food personality.

Last week’s loser, Eddie, forgot what show he was on–he probably thought he was on “Top Chef”–when he razzed working mom Melissa in the kitchen. Eddie, this show is all about image: you can’t pick on sweet, warm mother figures if you want to go far! Plus, for his dish, which he served to the grandest dame on FoodTV, Ina Garten, he pilfered a recipe from Paula Dean; a watermelon salad that I’ve shared with you before. Except, in Eddie’s version he used way too many onions. Those onions sent him packing: no one gives Ina Garten onion breath. But that salad is worth revisiting–it’s one of my favorites.

You can make the salad with three ingredients and four pantry staples. The ingredients are: watermelon, mint, and a Vidalia onion. The pantry staples are: olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

When I was craving this salad the other night, I simply bought watermelon already cut-up from the store (it cost $4). I cut the already cut-up pieces in half one more time, to make them even. I put them in a bowl with half a Vidalia onion sliced into half-moons (but use the onion sparingly, as Eddie will tell you). I rolled up 6 or 7 mint lives like a cigar and then chiffonaded like crazy. I threw the leaves in the bowl and then glugged in olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, a sprinkle of salt and pepper; I tasted and swooned. It’s so summery and satisfying; the mixture of watermelon juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar is bewitching and strange. You’ll want to wear it like a perfume.

Now many among you familiar with this salad will shriek at your computer screens: “You forgot the feta!!!”

It’s true! Well, I didn’t forget the feta: I was cheap. The feta cheese–the good kind–cost $6.99 and since I was making this salad just for myself (Craig was out galavanting) I couldn’t justify it. But you know what? Both versions of this salad are worthy: the kind with feta and the kind without. When you do add feta, it creates a creamy, salty counterpoint to all that fruity flava.

But make this salad, be sparing with the onions and be kind to blonde mother figures and you too can be the next Food Network Star! Or at least eat like one.

Let's dish!

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