It’s summertime and although the livin’ ain’t easy just quite yet, the promise of the upcoming holiday and festivities hangs heavily in the air. It has been a full and busy year and we all look forward to a time of relaxation, of connection and fun. I look forward to the privilege of staying in bed for 30mins longer, to daily swims and a couple of night-swims too, to decorating the Christmas tree and making all the delicious seasonal treats and sitting under our tree with friends… or by ourselves and just – sitting. Summer always feels a little like childhood to me, full of sensory memories that throw me back to gawkiness and also freedom and adventure. I remember Decembers when I could not wait to be put into an empty bath with a peeled stringy mango in my hands, with juice oozing its sticky way down my little arms. To this day, mangoes make me want to sit in a cool, empty tub and relive that childhood pleasure. The new, bigger and unstringy mangoes allow for better slicing etcetera, etcetera, but nothing can ever beat the nostalgia of being covered in mango juice, tenacious hair filling every gap between my little teeth and sucking out every bit of that exotic, sweet fruit so I could make funny hairstyles and faces with the remaining hairy pips while I destickyfied myself in a nice cool bath. I remember another languid afternoon, playing in the shade of another tree while the adults lazed on the lawn, having stimulating (and to me – forbidden and therefore rather frustrating) after-lunch conversation. The day had been stiflingly hot and after all the indulgent food, I remember longing for a rainstorm or a swim, even a gentle cool breeze – any respite from the heat, when out came our hostess groaning under her load – a tray with cut up watermelon slices. Cool, crisp, juicy beyond fantasy, pink perfection! I guess what I’m getting at with all this reminiscence is that memorable food can be pure simplicity, so embrace the joy of doing as little as possible and enjoy yourself!
Watermelon Small red onion
Black olives, pitted Feta
Mint, chopped Flat leaf parsley
Limes (juice) Olive oil
So as always, this salad should be adjusted to your taste and preference. There are a few components here that you will prefer more of and maybe others that you would prefer to omit entirely. There are many versions of watermelon salad out there, I did not invent it, but have made it in various incarnations many times. That is why I am giving no quantities here – play. Slice your halved and peeled onion as finely as you can, tip into a little bowl and squeeze over the juice of a couple of limes, leave to steep there for as long as you can, they will turn a beautiful jewel-like pink and lose their distinctive sharpness. Now peel and slice your watermelon, chopping it into bite-size chunks, deseeding as you go and put into a lovely serving bowl. Cut some feta into slightly smaller chunks, add to the watermelon. Now be generous with the chopped mint and also add some torn parsley leaves so that there is fresh green offsetting the enticing pink. Take a few black olives – black rather than calamata, add to the mix with the sweetened, softened onions and their juice. Glug over some olive oil and a good crack of black pepper. My grandfather always said food did not taste as good if not prepared and loved by one’s hands, so gently toss the salad with your hand so the melon is not mushed and the feta holds its shape as far as possible. Taste and adjust seasoning and lime. This will doubtless make an appearance on our festive table this year, not least for its fabulous colour! Serve it with cold meats, as a refreshing accompaniment to roast lamb or with an assortment of cool salads and meze style food. Enjoy!