Remember when I posted that recipe for frikeh, feta, cucumber and cherry salad? Well, I became obsessed with it. Each time I made it, I tinkered with it a little, constantly making substitutions or other tweaks to my tastes. In the end, I settled on using Bluebird Grain farro in lieu of the hard-to-find frikeh, walnuts instead of hazelnuts (plus a drizzle of walnut oil to give it extra oomph), a broader mix of herbs in the salsa verde, and event tried pickling the cherries for extra acidity. The variations are endless, but the equation of ingredients is so perfect, it's impossible not to make something delicious, no matter how you mix it up.
Recently, I've moved on to a new obsession. I've always enjoyed watermelon as a salad; I think it plays so much better with savory notes than sweet. The basic equation of watermelon + feta + onions + herbs is another perfect harmony. But, being obsessive, I'm never content to leave well enough alone. Classically, this salad calls for mint. But our backstairs herbs have been going gangbusters this year, so I mixed a melange of them. Mint, sure, but also parsley and the surprise winner: Lemon thyme. The little bursts of lemony freshness wake the whole salad up. A generous dose of Aleppo pepper gives the whole salad a low burn that keeps you coming back for more.
- 1/2 small watermelon, cut in 1" cubes
- 1/2 lb feta or ricotta salata, cut in 1/4" dice
- 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
- several kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 c. fresh herbs, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp Aleppo pepper or cayenne
- 1 tsp salt
- several cracks black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Best if it sits, refrigerated, for a couple hours or up to a day.