As we end off a whopping 26 weeks (that’s half a year, folks!) of this Chopped Canada Mystery Solved blog series, we find ourselves in the middle of summer. Thus, a fresh-tasting salad is definitely in order.
Watermelon is likely not a mystery to many out there, but discovering a new way to use a common ingredient is always a good thing. There is nothing wrong with eating an entire watermelon slice-by-slice on a hot summer’s day or even wearing it on your head during a football game if you’re a Saskatchewan Rough Riders fan, but here’s a few other ways to look at it.
First, to make things a little more interesting, I took the rind of the fruit (the white part) and pickled it before adding it to the salad. Since it’s significantly tougher than the flesh, it holds up to pickling well and absorbs a brine quickly. It’s a technique I’ve seen done in a restaurant here in Calgary a couple of summers ago and have been a fan of doing at home ever since.
The sweetness of watermelon and fresh crunch of cucumber both go perfectly with the saltiness of feta in this salad. In the vinaigrette, I’ve used more watermelon flesh and then added the leftover oil from frying up the chorizo to emulsify it, giving it a bit of extra heat. This dressing would be good on any simple salad, so keep any leftovers in your fridge and toss on some greens later in the week.
Fried chorizo ingredients:
3 tablespoons canola oil
6 slices chorizo, quartered
Pickled watermelon rind ingredients:
? cup white vinegar
? cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon pickling spice
2 cloves garlic
? cup watermelon rinds, diced
Watermelon vinaigrette ingredients:
1 cup watermelon flesh, 1-inch cubed
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons liquid honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
reserved oil from fried chorizo
4 cups watermelon flesh, 1-inch cubed
1 long English cucumber, ½-inch cubed
½ cup feta, ½-inch cubed
¼ cup fresh basil, torn
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fried chorizo directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat until very hot.
2. Add chorizo to the pan and let fry until crispy, approximately 1 minute.
3. Transfer to paper towel to absorb any excess grease and to let cool.
4. Reserve remaining oil from pan.
Pickled watermelon rind directions:
1. Place all ingredients except rind in a small pot and bring to a simmer on high heat.
2. In a heat safe bowl, pour hot liquid over chopped rind and let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Discard ¾ of liquid, transfer to a container and let chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Watermelon vinaigrette directions:
1. Place all ingredients except oil in a blender and puree on high until very smooth.
2. Continue to blend while slowly pouring in reserved oil from frying chorizo.
3. Transfer to a bowl and set aside for now.
Salad and assembly directions:
1. Place all salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl along with the pickled watermelon rinds.
2. Add desired amount of watermelon vinaigrette (approximately ½ to ? cup) and toss gently until well-coated.
3. Top with fried chorizo and serve immediately.
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.