Watermelons are so sweet right now! I have been eating a lot of it and while I like them as they are, I also like them in a salad.  They go well with cherries and I have been pairing the 2 fruits; dense, sweet-tart cherries with liquid packed crunchy watermelons! Delicious.

This recipe is highly flexible.  Just keep in mind to balance tastes and textures, substituting for similar ingredients if you can’t be bothered to make a trip to the grocery store.  

What I would definitely keep in this recipe is the cheese and the Sweet Pickled Onions (gives it a sweet-tart onion flavour without the sharpness). Do not vary too far off from feta. It has to be salty, crumbly and bold to bring out the flavours of all the ingredients. While feta is very good, other varieties of soft goat or sheep cheese will be just as suitable.

How to choose watermelons? Scroll down to ‘Tips‘.

Watermelon And Dark Cherry Salad

Prep: ~20 minutes 
Cook:
Inactive: ~20 minutes
Level: Easy
Serves:
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? No

Ingredients

1 cup=250ml=8.45 US fl oz

No measurements for the Salad (except for the Sweet Pickled Onions) as it would be best to estimate quantities to suit your taste

Watermelon
Cherries
Feta*
Pistachios or nuts of your choice (walnuts are nice)
Cooked black beans**
Mint leaves (parsley, tarragon, oregano are not bad too)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & ground pepper

20-minutes Sweet Pickled Onions
~1/3 cup thinly sliced purple onions
~2 Tablespoons lemon/lime juice (don’t use vinegar, it will taste terrible)
~2 Tablespoons sugar
~1/2 teaspoon salt
* Do not skip the cheese as it brings out the flavour of the salad ingredients. Substitute with any soft, salty goat or sheep cheese.
** Use it for taste and texture. Mine are straight out from a can. Substitute with kidney beans. I have tried it with chickpeas but didn’t think it paired well with the rest of the salad. Don’t use too much. Save the rest for a bean salad, bean puree (as a dip or for beans on toast), bean soup, rice & beans, refried beans or dal.

Method

20-minutes Sweet Pickled Onions
1. Combine all ingredients. Set aside for 20 minutes or up to 1 day ahead refrigerated. The aim is to get the onions sweet and to lose some of its sharpness. So taste the pickling onions and decide if you need to adjust seasonings or pickle them longer. It depends in part on the type of onion and lemon you use.
2. The longer the onions sit in the pickling liquid, the more liquid would be drawn out. You can use just a little of it to drizzle over the salad if you like.

Prep the ingredients
1. Mint leaves: Wash and pat dry.
2. Black Beans: Rinse whatever amount you are using under water and drain. Add salt to season and a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil.
3. Pistachios: Cut whole pistachios into 2 – 3 lengthwise.
4. Feta: Remove from packaging.
5. Cherries: Pit the cherries.
6. Watermelon: Choose to serve the watermelon as I did in wedges (refer to feature image) or cut into cubes. Arrange the watermelon onto serving vessel.

Assembling the salad
1.  Scatter black beans and pistachios over watermelon.
2. Crumble feta over watermelon.
3. Next goes cherries and Sweet Pickled Onions (I don’t usually add the pickling juices but you taste it and decide if you want to use it in your salad). 
4. Tear up the mint leaves before adding.
5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and pepper the salad. It should not need any salt. Leave it at the table for those who might want to salt.
6. Serve immediately as the watermelon will soon start to pool its juices.

Tips

How to choose a good watermelon
Firstly, you must pick it up, heavy as they are.

1. Dark stripes but overall dull looking.  Shiny watermelons are too young.
2. It should feel heavy for its size. When you lift it up, you would be pleasantly surprise at how heavy it is! Promises juiciness!
3. No bruises, dents or soft spots. It has to be firm.
4. There should be a round yellow circle on the melon. That’s the spot where the melon sat as it was under the sun. So I take it as the larger that circle of yellow, the more time it had under the sun to ripen. If it has brown ‘scratches’ that’s nothing to worry about. Don’t get a too yellow spot though, as it might indicate an overripe one.
5. Give it a knock with your knuckles, it should sound hollow and have resonance. Juicy! Dull sounding thuds are a no no. You would have to pick up and knock on a few watermelons to get an idea of which one has that lovely hollow sound.

As long as you get a sweet watermelon, your salad is as good as done. Keep the cheese and the Sweet Pickled Onions, all the other ingredients can be changed or omitted. It’s up to you!

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