Grilled Watermelon & Fennel Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette

This unique grilled summer salad is the result of a category three brainstorm and a little flavor research.

I've long wanted to try grilling watermelon, and I finally decided to actually go for it last weekend. Once I made that decision the next question was what I'd do with it. I needed some sort of dish, and I came up with this with the help of one of my favorite go-to resources, The Flavor Bible. This reference is indispensable for situations like this where you have a flavor and need to find other flavors and ingredients to accompany it.

In my research I found that fennel pairs well with watermelon, and red onion, lemon and feta work well with fennel. Since the watermelon would be grilled I thought I'd grill all of the main ingredients, and that's exactly what you see here.

This didn't last long, and the ladies of the house told me to put it on the "Make That Again!" list.

Ingredients
1 slice Watermelon (about 1" thick and 12" in diameter)
1 bulb Fennel, quartered
1 medium Red onion
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup Olive oil, extra virgin
3 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 Lemon, halved
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
Canola oil spray

Method
Quarter the watermelon slice, arrange the wedges in a single layer in a gallon zip-top bag, and freeze for about two hours.

Once the watermelon is frozen, and about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, start your grill and prepare for direct cooking over medium-high heat (about 350-400º)

Cut out as much of the core of each fennel quarter as you can while leaving enough to hold the layers together.

Quarter the onion, leaving enough of the ends to keep the layers intact.

Sprinkle the cut end of each lemon half with half of the sugar.

Spray all sides of the onion and fennel lightly with the canola oil.

Grill both sides of the watermelon just long enough to get light grill marks, then remove to a platter and refrigerate.

Grilled Watermelon & Fennel Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette

Grill all sides of the fennel, onion and just the cut end of the lemon until they are brown and begin to soften, then remove to a platter and refrigerate all but the lemon.

Grilled Watermelon & Fennel Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Watermelon & Fennel Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette

Juice the lemon into a medium mixing bowl, then add the olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine, then set aside.

Trim any charred portions from the fennel and onion, then slice each thin (about 1/8") and add to a large mixing bowl.

Add about two tablespoons of the dressing to the bowl and toss gently to coat the fennel and onion mixture.

Cut the watermelon from the rind and into cubes (about 1") and add to the bowl and toss gently.

Pile the salad on a platter, drizzle with the dressing (you'll likely have some left), and top with the feta and parsley.

Serve and enjoy!

(makes about six servings)

Note: I made a larger batch, thus the additional ingredients in the pictures.

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8 Comments:
Anonymous Anonymous said...
That looks really tasty, and we happen to have a watermelon in the fridge. Might have to try this! By all means, please encourage cat 3 brain storms!
Julie
Blogger Chris said...
The Flavor Bible rocks and I bought my copy for my Kindle because you recommended it to me several months ago.

This salad seems phenomenal, dude. It reminds me of a blood orange/feta/red onion salad we had last year and LOVED it.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Thanks, Chris. The salad is admittedly wacky, but the flavors and textures worked well together. All hail The Flavor Bible!
Blogger John Dawson said...
And for the cat-4 brainstorm I've thought of doing a grilled watermelon, fennel and lemoncello aperitif. Or, maybe a sorbet.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
My funky cousin is going to make this but with goat instead of feta. What are your thoughts on this approach?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - Feta is goat cheese, so it'll be great.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
to be technical there is goat cheese and there is feta cheese. feta cheese is a type of goat cheese but not all goat cheese is feta cheese.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - Thanks, I'm glad to read that I was technically correct. ;-)

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