My heart is so happy right now I could squeal! We've just returned from our family's 29th annual reunion in South Carolina. Back when I was a wee lass my grandparents had the good sense to institute a summer tradition of gathering their five children plus families for a week at the beach. God bless them, they stuck with it. I've always cherished this trip but have grown to appreciate it more with each passing year. With a new crop of itty-bitty babies our head count this summer totaled 33. Besides the good company, I adore that this week is a true vacation. There's nowhere to go, nothing to see. Upon arrival it takes but minutes to fall into the familiar routine we've perfected over nearly three decades. Tennis/jogging/straight up lounging in the morning; lunches of build-your-own honey baked ham sandwiches and pimento cheese (while it lasts); afternoons on the beach, stocked coolers in tow; cocktails and hor d'oeuvres on the porch; dinner together at the big long table (actually three pushed together to make one); party and card games in the evenings. Sleep and repeat. It's magic. Scroll on for a few snaps.
Every night a different family takes a turn cooking dinner for the crowd. Some version of this watermelon salad usually makes an appearance, and for good reason. It's simple, brilliantly pretty, and a surefire crowdpleaser.
- 1 small watermelon, cubed (if you have a large melon, use 1/2)
- 4 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced
- 1 serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds (if you don't like heat, omit!)
- 8 oz. feta*, cubed
- 12-16 basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 12-16 mint leaves, roughly chopped
- Juice of one half lime
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Toss watermelon, cucumber, serrano, feta, basil and lime juice in serving bowl
- Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil
- Serve immediately (If allowed to sit the watermelon and cucumber will release water. Toss ingredients as close to serving as possible.)
*A few notes on feta from our resident cheesemonger. High quality feta will make this salad sing. Feta can be made from cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, or some combination of these. In the States cow's milk is the most ubiquitous, found in those little vacuum sealed squares at the grocery store. Those will do in a pinch but you're better off seeking out a feta packed in brine. 100% sheep's milk is my favorite. French, Greek, or Bulgarian are all excellent bets but never rule out the feta you find at your local farmer's market.