This is summer on a plate! Grilled watermelon, crispy prosciutto and tangy balsamic dressing take this salad to the next level.
Today is the last day of a week spent with a couple of my girlfriends and their boys at the shore. The boys enjoyed the waves, beach camp and way too many ice cream cones. We enjoyed the sun, long morning walks, glasses of rosé and a steady stream of conversation.
There’s something about staring at the waves from a beach chair set low in the sand next to a girlfriend that just makes the conversation flow. We talk kids, work, fun times we’ve shared and upcoming plans. We discuss books that we’ve read and hope to read, our favorite movies from our angsty adolescent days and silly, sappy songs .
Everything just seems simpler down at the shore, including meals. We grab yogurt and granola in the am, munch on leftovers from the previous night’s dinner for lunch, and make something fresh and light for dinner. A big salad, a little bit sweet and a little bit salty (and ideally paired with a crisp white wine) is the perfect meal after a day spent soaking up the sun.
I was inspired by the flavors of a traditional caprese salad for our final dinner together. If you’re not familiar, a caprese salad is comprised of fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and basil, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I knew that I wanted to capture that summer tomato flavor and pair it with cheese and a sprinkling of basil in our salad. But argh! No tomatoes on hand and laziness prevented me from heading to the store, so it was time to improvise. I spied a half of a watermelon left over from the kids’ lunches and knew it would work.
Fresh watermelon is sweet and refreshing, but something dramatic happens when it is cooked. It takes on a tomato-y flavor that goes well in salads or makes for a bright summer soup when it is pureed. For this salad, I sliced the watermelon in thick slices, drizzled it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and placed it on a hot grill. I seared the watermelon on both sides, then cut it into cubes and tossed it with all the salad fixings.
Peppery arugula, shaved parmesan, basil and scallions pair perfectly with the tomato-y grilled watermelon. Oven-crisped prosciutto crumbles and a tangy balsamic dressing round it out and make it a meal. Serve it with crusty bread, chilled white wine and a little girl-talk. Ah, summer.
- Balsamic Dressing
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
- 1/2 medium seedless watermelon
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 oz baby arugula
- 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
- 4 scallions white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 oz parmesan shaved
Balsamic Dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.
Whisk in olive oil in a thin, steady stream until dressing is emulsified.
Salad:Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Lay the prosciutto slices in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan and bake for about 15 mins or until crispy, but not burned. Cool and crumble.
Turn your grill onto high heat.
Cut the watermelon into 1 inch slices and remove rinds. Brush the watermelon with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill until charred grill marks show on one side, about 3 mins. Flip over and grill an additional 3 mins or until charred marks show.
Cut watermelon into chunks.
Toss arugula, basil and scallions with a small amount of dressing and spread onto a large platter. Scatter watermelon over the greens and sprinkle with shaved parmesan and crispy prosciutto crumbles.
Drizzle with dressing to taste.