Watermelon salad with basil/lime dressing
Coffee and doughnuts, peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, watermelon and basil…. Wait. What?! Watermelon and basil?!?!
That’s right, watermelon and basil. If you’ve never paired these two flavors together, it’s time you gave them a try! About a month ago I was watching an episode from the sixth season of America’s Masterchef when Derrick,the rock drummer, made some kind of basil-infused, compressed watermelon thing. OK, so yeah, the whole compression thing was cool, but on a much simpler level I was intrigued by the watermelon / basil combo. Then about a week later, I saw a photo on Instagram of a watermelon / basil coulis. I was like, OK, these two are obviously a legit couple now.
Not only does the sweetness of watermelon match so well with fresh herbs, such as basil, it also works well with the sour flavors in other fruits. I didn’t want to just throw some basil on the salad. I wanted to incorporate it into an actual recipe – not just “here are 7 ingredients I tossed together in a bowl.” So I decided to make a basil dressing and get a little sourness from fresh lime juice.
As I hope you can see from my photos, I think that food should not only taste good, but look lovely as well! “We eat first with our eyes,” some wise soul once said. So, knowing that green and red make brown, I decided NOT to use balsamic vinegar in this dressing, but instead go with a very pale apple cider vinegar. The result is a lovely yellow-green dressing that is packed with flavor and really gives this salad a zing!
Another nice pairing, if you can call it that, is warm and cold. Adding one or two warm elements to all the other cold ones is another way to mix things up a bit and add another dimension to your salad. For my warm ingredients I decided to have fried tofu (this time a very firm, almond/sesame tofu) and padrón peppers. If you’ve have had padrón peppers before I really suggest trying them them out! These are a green, Spanish pepper, that not unlike Turkish sivri peppers, can vary quite a bit in flavor – most are mild, while some (about 15% can be quite hot). They are delicious all on their own, fried in some olive oil with a generous helping of sea salt. There’s a pub near me, and their padrón peppers snack is about the only vegan they have – but I don’t complain because they’re delicious! And because, well, they have incredible, vegan-friendly craft beer as well.
I’m a sucker for croutons, and scattering some on top of your salad, completes the final, contrasting pair – soft and crunchy. And there you have it! A variety of “odd couples” all thrown together, resulting in one, exciting whole: Watermelon salad with basil / lime dressing!
- 8 oz (230 g) – extra frim tofu, cubed
- 8 oz (230 g) – Padrón peppers
- ca 2½ lbs (1+ kg) – seedless watermelon
- 8 oz (230 g) – rucola / arugula / rocket lettuce
- 1 cucumber (about 12 oz / 325 g), cut into thick slices and halved or quartered
- 4 oz (115 g) – sunflower sprouts
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 oz (115 g) – Kalamata olives
- oil, for frying
- Himalayan / sea salt Basil / Lime dressing
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) – fresh basil (about ½ a store-bought plant)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) – olive oil
- 2 Tbsps (30 ml) – apple cider vinegar
- juice from 1 lime, approx 3 Tbsps (45 ml)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add all the dressing ingredients to small food processor, or use a wand / immersion blender, and mix to a smooth liquid.
- Heat some oil in a pan and fry the cubed tofu pieces until they get some color. Remove from the pan. Add some more oil, and fry the peppers until the skin is brown and blistered, remove from heat and sprinkle with Himalayan / sea salt.
- Cut the watermelon into thick slices, remove the rind and cut into cubes or triangles.
- Add all the cold salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Top with the tofu and peppers and serve together with the basil / lime dressing.