Watermelon Caprese Salad
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Looking for a quintessential salad for summer? This watermelon Caprese salad is incredibly satisfying on a hot summer day with a crisp glass of rosé enjoyed alongside smoked pork shoulder with a coffee rub.
Five years ago when I left the over-priced and heavily congested Bay Area for the affordable Central Coast, I found myself in a major food funk. I had (unknowingly) been spoiled by all of the quality restaurants within a 10-minute drive from where I lived, so when I was forced with the realization that I would have to drive at least 20-miles just to reach a semi-decent dining establishment was simply depressing.
After a few hits and misses, I eventually stumbled across what would become my husband and I’s favorite restaurant for several years before it sadly closed, breaking our hearts into a million tiny pieces. In this day and age, with the whole farm-to-table movement in full swing on the Central Coast, it’s somewhat difficult to find places we enjoy eating at year-round with always-changing menu’s—but this place had something we looked forward to every season.
One of my personal favorite items was only available for a couple of weeks every summer: their delicious spin on the Italian caprese. Their version used different types of melon (depending upon what was the freshest and tasting the best on that particular evening), heirloom tomatoes, locally produced mozzarella, thin strips of basil, pine nuts topped off with an addicting balsamic glaze. Regretfully, I never got my hands on the recipe, which has left me on the never-ending quest to somehow recreate the magical combination of flavors I looked forward to every summer.
Heirloom tomatoes can be inconsistent year-to-year (at least if grown under my guidance), and mozzarella isn’t my favorite cheese, so I took most of last summer playing around with flavors and textures hoping to create a replacement for that original recipe.
My husband says I can’t call this caprese because it doesn’t have mozzarella or tomatoes, but I digress. It has goat cheese, herbs, and that familiar balsamic glaze we all know and love. I also added a bed of leafy greens (I like to use a mixture of arugula and chard but realize both can sometimes be expensive in other parts of the world) and freshly picked strawberries. If you've never experienced strawberries drizzled in a honey-balsamic glaze you just wait. It's almost... chocolatey and highly addicting.
I suggest making the balsamic reduction during the coolest part of the day and then transferring the mixture to a squeeze bottle that you can easily stash in your refrigerator. Not only will the glaze be cold (and oh-so-delicious), it'll also be easier to drizz
The end result? A refreshing salad that’s loaded with delicate ingredients and not-so-subtle flavors that’s sure to become a tradition every summer for years to come.
- 2 cups cubed watermelon
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons chopped mint
- pinch of salt
How to cook Watermelon Caprese
- In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey and heat over medium heat until just boiling. Whisk together, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking on low heat until the mixture is reduced by half. Once thickened (about 3 minutes), remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature and either transfer to a squeeze bottle or to the fridge to use later.
- In a serving bowl, add the arugula and drizzle with a bit of the olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Add the watermelon and strawberries, goat cheese and pine nuts. Generously drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top of the salad, and top with the fresh mint.
Sat. Fat (grams)2.04