mint

Salads

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Chopping Watermelon | www.hungryinlove.com
Chopping Cucumber | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Feta | www.hungryinlove.com
Basil | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

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.

The beach house...

The beach house...

...and 180 degrees.

...and 180 degrees.

South Carolina surf.

South Carolina surf.

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 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

Prep

  • 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. 

Pasta, Fixings

Pistachio Mint Pesto

Spaghetti + Pistachio Mint Pesto | www.hungryinlove.com

I don't have a good track record for remembering firsts. Pesto is a vivid exception. The scene was 9th grade - a 'pasta party'  at Christine C.'s house. In addition to the mandatory red sauce, Christine's mom also presented us with a platter of spaghetti all speckled green. I was intrigued.

For those who aren't familiar, a pasta party is an adorable ritual enjoyed by high school athletes. The evening before a game the whole team gathers at the home of one patient parent to eat heaps of pasta. The presumed logic being that carb-loading is imperative to peak performance the following day. It's entirely unnecessary and totally fun. Lots of inter-grade bonding and boy talk. I imagine this tradition has suffered in the era of gluten intolerance. If there are any high school readers out there I'd welcome a report.

Anyhow, I digress. I swiftly cornered Christine's mom and complimented the 'green stuff'.  She showed me an empty packet and explained that all you need to do is mix the contents with oil and presto, pesto! That night I relayed the discovery to my mom and made my case for partaking in this exotic delicacy. "Oh, your father doesn't like pesto." Womp womp. The ultimate veto. Reflecting on this memory, maybe my Dad didn't like pesto because his reference point was freeze-dried powder that came in a packet.

By college I had graduated to jarred pesto and understood that basil and pine nuts were essential common denominators. Then one fateful day a roommate demonstrated that any old combo of nuts + greens could yield a mighty pesto. I think her version featured arugula and walnuts. Fast forward many moons to this weekend where I found myself with a cupboard full of pistachios and mint aplenty due to the Easter holiday. A new duo, but why not? Even if only because it's documented here on the world wide web this is a first I won't soon forget.

Pesto Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Pistachio Mint Pesto | www.hungryinlove.com
Lime Zest + Olive Oil | www.hungryinlove.com
Spaghetti | www.hungryinlove.com
Spaghetti + Pistachio Mint Pesto | www.hungryinlove.com

pistachio Mint Pesto

Makes ~ 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tb. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pinch salt

Prep

  • Toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium heat until just they are fragrant and just beginning to browm, 3-5 minutes; let cool
  • In a food processor combine pistachios, mint, cheese, lime zest,  garlic, and salt until you have a thick paste
  • With the motor running add olive oil and lime juice through the feed tube;  if pesto is too thick add water 1 Tbs. at a time until pesto reaches desired consistency
  • Keep pesto in the fridge for up to a week; also freezes well