Cool, crisp, quick and delicious, what higher praise could I bestow on a summertime salad? This best-of-summer salad brings together sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, succulent watermelon and creamy salty feta.
Joe has grown more tomatoes than ever and the varieties are amazing. Indigo Blue Berries, Black Cherry, Pink Bumble Bee, Sungold, to name a few, as beautiful to behold as they are sweet and juicy to devour.
Indigo Blue Berries are a new variety this year. Like the blueberry, Indigo Blue Berry tomatoes contain high levels of anthocyanin, a naturally occuring antioxidant. Pink Bumble Bee tomatoes are a round pink cherry tomato striped with yellow and orange. The Black Cherry tomato is a deep red with a blackish hue. Sungolds are an apricot orange in color with a sweet tropical flavor.
It’s best to cut the tomatoes in half for easier eating. My serrated edge Cutco knife always gives me a neat cut through the tomato skin. I peel most of the skin from the cucumber and leave a strip of skin on for color. Scoop out the seeds if they are too large.
Another member of the cucurbit family, watermelon, brings a refreshing sweetness to the salad. The watermelon you will most likely find anywhere these days will be seedless. Over the past several years it has become increasingly difficult to find seeded watermelons. Only 10% of watermelons grown on farms in 2011 were of the seeded variety, in 2003, almost 37% were.
Seedless watermelons are not genetically modified but are “the watermelon version of the mule.” They are a sterile hybrid achieved by crossing the pollen of the normal diploid (2 sets of chromosomes) watermelon with a female flower that is a tetraploid (4 sets of chromosomes). The genetic change occurs from the use of colchicine, a chemical derived from the fall blooming crocus that impacts chromosomes and has been used for years to treat and cure gout. The resulting seeds from these two plants are triploids (3 sets of chromosomes) and will produce sterile seedless watermelons. The white seeds, also known as “pips” you may find in your seedless watermelons are hollow seed coats that didn’t mature.
Seedless or seeded, which type tastes better? Is it just nostalgia, do we fear the end of the days of watermelon seed spitting contests? If you still want seeds in your watermelon you may find those varieties at your farmers market or you may just need to grow your own.
As someone who always likes to sprinkle a little salt on her watermelon, feta just seems like a natural addition to this flavor combination. Feta brings both a creamy texture and a contrasting saltiness that brings out the flavors of the other elements of this salad. The simplest of dressings and a scattering of fresh basil and you have a great summer salad, colorful and easy to put together, a refreshing addition to any barbecue or cookout.
Tomato Cucumber and Watermelon Salad
- 2c assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2c medium diced seedless watermelon
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded if necessary, cut into 3/4″ pieces
- 3/4c feta cheese, cut into half inch cubes
- 1/4c fresh mini basil leaves or large leaves torn into small pieces
- 1T extra virgin olive oil
- 1T lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Put the cherry tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, feta and basil in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4t salt and a 1/4t fresh ground pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat.