If you had told me a few years ago to try pairing Watermelon with goat cheese, red onions and jalapenos I would have said "No Thank You"! If you had gone a step further and suggested the addition of sunflower shoots and some edible flowers I would have burst out laughing! But as my mother always said always try one bite of something new before giving up on it! Today I'm a huge fan of Watermelon Salads, sunflower shoots and edible flowers! So follow my lead and please give this recipe for Watermelon Salad with Goat Cheese at least one try before shaking your head "No"!
The Watermelon is originally believed to be from the Kalahari Desert of Africa per yummyee.wordpress.com. A fruit that is approximately 92% water is an obviously perfect fit for a desert climate. The ancient fruit that we are talking about here is far removed from the red, juicy melon we eat today. The original watermelon was hard, pale and even a bit bitter in taste.
As the fruit travelled to other countries in Asia, Europe and eventually the Americas, different varieties of it evolved. In fact, the seedless watermelon we enjoy today was only created about 50 years ago.
Watermelon Health Benefits
The fruit, apart from being excellent for hydration, due to it's high water content, has many other health benefits. Some of the Key ones are:
- Good for Kidney Health
- Help with Heart and Bone Health
- Cancer Treatment and Prevention
- Detox ,Weight Loss & Digestion
Microgreens and edible Flowers
If you've checked out other recipes on my blog you know I love using microgreens! A super easy way to get those nutrients in even if you don't like your greens! Trust me I've converted a few people to these!
For this particular recipe I used sunflower shoots. These are one of the healthiest microgreens and contain all essential amino acids along with many minerals and are especially high in zinc.
I also experimented for the first time with edible flowers. Besides looking pretty, these have a multitude of health benefits, some of which are listed below :
- Mexican Marigold - helps with indigestion, colic, rheumatism and many other things.
- Crested Cockscombs - High in Protein and some minerals
- Wax Begonia - Helps with flu, digestion, skin, bones and teeth
These flowers can often be found at farmers markets or specialty stores.
How Watermelon Is Eaten In Different Cultures
Of course everyone eats and loves watermelon. The simplest way is to slice it and eat it straight with the rind attached! Then you can cut it into wedges, or cubes,or make pretty little scooped balls out of it! The sky's the limit!
In Pakistan many people add salt to their watermelon in order to prevent dehydration. In the mediterranean culture, watermelon and feta is a popular choice for breakfast. Gradually, some of these trends have led to the evolution of watermelon salads!
Whereas watermelon in North America, and for that matter even in my native Pakistan, was eaten solely as a fruit, more and more often we see it served in a salad form with various mix ins. If you haven't tried it with the addition of cheese, onions and herbs you're missing out!
The contrast of flavors is really unique and tastes amazing on the palate. You will definitely be left wanting more. The best part is that this is healthy, easy and refreshing. Perfect for a light lunch or snack and as a pairing for those summer barbecues.
The recipe is fairly simple and you can adapt it to your taste as well as to the availability of ingredients.
The king of the show here is a sweet, juicy Watermelon. I usually like to pair mine with feta or goat cheese crumbles, depending on availability and taste preferences. Feta has a slightly saltier more pungent taste and provides a sharper contrast to the sweet watermelon.
I chose to go with the milder flavor of goat cheese here since I am adding red onions and jalapenos. Since both of these have a very bold taste, the milder cheese helps neutralize the contrast between these and the watermelon.
As watermelon is so juicy on it's own I just drizzle some lemon juice and avoid a rich dressing. the lemon adds some citrus notes and also helps keeps things looking fresh and hydrated.
For health reasons, flavor and presentation I added sunflower shoots and some edible flowers that I got from my local supplier (harbor hill farm on facebook-do check them out). They did not disappoint!
As you can see this is a simple and healthy salad, which is made of fresh seasonal ingredients in very little time. It's delicious to eat and makes for a beautiful centerpiece for your next barbecue to impress your guests!
Some great recipes from the blog to pair this salad with:
Watermelon Salad With Goat Cheese
- 2 cups watermelon
- ¼ cup sliced red onion
- ½ jalapeno
- ½ lemon
- ¼ cup goat cheese crumbles
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup sunflower shoots
- Mexican Marigold few petals
- Crested Cockscombs few petals
- Wax Begonia few petals
- Chop the watermelon into small bite sized pieces
- Slice the red onion into very thin slices
- Buy goat cheese crumbles or chop a block of goat cheese into pieces to use as crumbles
- Finely chop half a jalapeno and deseed if you want your salad less spicy
- In a bowl, toss the watermelon, onion, cheese, jalapeno, black pepper and lemon juice and toss well
- plate and sprinkle with the sunflower shoots, edible flower petals, serve and enjoy
- The cheese can be swapped for Feta if you prefer a sharper, saltier taste.
- If you want a spicier salad you can use serrano chilies, if you don't like the idea od the chilies just omit them. A happy medium is to use the jalapenos and deseed them.
- The edible flowers are optional and can be used if desired and in whatever quantity desired. They don't have a very strong taste but do have tons of nutritional value. For this reason and the aesthetics I was fairly generous in my use of them in this salad.