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Watermelon Feta Salad with Basil Oil and Balsamic

A refreshing afternoon snack or lighter side for off-the-grill favorites, this watermelon salad with feta brings zingy summer sweetness to the picnic table and is also good for you.

Not only is it a low-calorie hydrating fruit, watermelon is a good source of antioxidant vitamins C and A (as carotenoids), some B vitamins, and minerals like potassium and magnesium, all of which help your body function at its best. Watermelon also contains the same powerhouse phytochemical as tomatoes, lycopene, best known for supporting lung, heart, prostate and breast health – the redder the watermelon, the better!

Onions are another one of my top superfoods due to their incredible health benefits. Their most important power is reducing inflammation, which is essential for healthy aging. Onions contain three essential antioxidants – quercetin, selenium and organosulfides – that neutralize free radicals. Plus, they contain inulin, a fiber that’s great for your gut bacteria and helps with digestion. I try to add them to as many dishes as possible. I know onions aren’t for everyone, but if you like them, they add a burst of pungent flavor to this salad that balances the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the feta.

The feta cheese provides a dose of satiating protein and piquant saltiness that’s the perfect finishing touch to this healthy watermelon salad. Some people might instead prefer a creamy, tangy goat-cheese. To make a vegan version of this watermelon salad, substitute chopped walnuts for the cheese.

Of course, a salad would not be complete without a healthy finish of my favorite superfood, cold-pressed olive oil. In this watermelon salad recipe I use silky crushed basil olive oil and a light drizzle of concentrated balsamic reduction – the basil contributes a delightful herbal sweetness that brings the whole dish together. I’ve also made it with Rosemary Olive Oil, which brings a refreshing piney essence to the dish, but did so without balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze – the rosemary oil with the watermelon was a unique and delightful combo!

When making your salad, get creative and go with what you like best – goat vs feta cheese, sweet basil vs rosemary, onions or no onions – it’s all good!

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 6 cups cubed watermelon (1 medium sized melon)
  • 1 cup organic feta or goat cheese
  • 4 cups microgreens or baby greens
  • 4 Tbs Vervana Crushed Basil or Rosemary Olive Oil
  • Optional: 1 medium red onion or shallot
  • Optional: 2 Tbs balsamic glaze or Vervana Fig Vinegar
  • Optional: a few grinds of Savory Salt Blend and Pepper & Juniper Blend
  • Vegan option: substitute walnuts for the feta or goat cheese

If you are using a balsamic glaze, prepare the balsamic reduction: simply whisk 1 cup Organic Balsamic Vinegar over medium heat until bubbles form, then reduce to medium-low heat and continue stirring until the balsamic reduces by about half. Voila!

To make the watermelon salad with feta, slice a medium-sized watermelon into bite-sized cubes. Split the micro- or baby greens between four plates and top each with about 1 to 1.5 cups of cubed watermelon. Add to each salad a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese, some onion or shallot (if using), a generous drizzle of basil olive oil, and a light drizzle of balsamic glaze or fig vinegar; if using Rosemary Olive Oil instead of Basil Olive Oil you may want to skip the balsamic vinegar. If you wish, add a few grinds of Salt Blend to each plate.

Serve cold and enjoy – Mangiare! Serves 4 

Reference: 

© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.

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