“I have always loved watermelon and relish any opportunity to eat it, whether plain or diced up with feta and mint and tossed with a little olive oil. It makes me think of summertime. On set and at home, I try to always have a container of watermelon sprinkled with cinnamon because it elevates the flavor just a notch and makes it feel special.”Meghan Markle
Today is Miss Markle’s wedding day, and in aid of that I’m posting a recipe for a salad incorporating one of her favourite combinations – watermelon and feta.
I don’t know where she first discovered the felicity of this marriage of flavours but I discovered it when I first started sailing in Greece.
You could almost always, no matter how remote the mooring was, get hold of watermelon and feta…and what most often went with it to transform it into a salad, olive oil, basil… and then to complete the meal, perhaps some salami. Even if you couldn’t lay your hands on any vinegar (I always kept a bottle on board anyway) the acidity of the melon juice would work as the balancing counterpoint to the oil. Salt could be contributed by the feta…but pepper, I discovered, was an essential component to transform the whole into something really magical.
Travel writer, John Gregory-Smith, who specialises in middle-eastern cuisine also uses mint, like Miss Markel, but he also adds, Lebanese-style, black olives. Chef Chris Honor compromises, using a mix of mint and basil, and adding green tomatoes, baby tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil.
Serve it with salami, or ham which echoes the sweet, saltiness of this salad.
Recipe for a watermelon and feta salad for Miss Markle
- half a watermelon
- 1 small bunch of basil – 25g/less than an ounce – Miss Markle uses mint, which is refreshing, but basil is somehow blousily summery…more Mediterranean.
- 200g/7 oz feta
- 6 spring onions – get pink ones if you can
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- 2 tbsps thick balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsps toasted pumpkin seeds
- generous grinds of Indonesian long pepper
- black olives (optional)
- Cut the watermelon into chunks and discard the peel and the pips. Put it in a medium sized salad bowl.
- Tear over the basil.
- Snip over the spring onions, including a cm or so (about half an inch) of the green part.
- Break over the feta.
- Pour over the oil and vinegar.
- Grind over the pepper.
- Toss well.
- Serve, garnished with the pumpkin seeds, and, if using, the black olives.
Music to listen to as you cook
While you do this, listen to Deborah Henson-Conant singing about the delightful character of the watermelon in Watermelon Bougie. She actually starts to sing the song 8.32 minutes in….