This Watermelon Salad is a plateful of summer, for me. Summer may be slipping by but you would never know it from the garden. Or from the endless hot days we are having. The end of August means the end of summer for a lot of people. School is back in session, vacation is over, and it's time to get back into routines. But the garden is flourishing, and summer produce is at it's peak. It's still warm enough to keep grilling, and salads are the best accompaniment. For me, the month of September is the best month of summer.
I don't have watermelon in the garden, (although I have been carefully nurturing a cantaloupe vine). But cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, and basil are growing like crazy. The cooler nights of late summer seem to make the garden happy, and everything is ripening at once.
Watermelon is the ultimate summer refreshment. Did you know that watermelon is not a fruit, but actually a vegetable? It's a relative of pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash. And you may be happy to know, that seedless watermelons are not genetically modified. The seedless watermelon was first created over 50 years ago by crossing watermelons with different chromosomes to create a sterile watermelon. Those are just a couple, but here are more fun facts about watermelon.
The best salads have a good balance of flavour elements, as well as freshness and crunch. This one, featuring sweet watermelon is perfect when paired with smoky bacon, spicy jalapeno, and crunchy cucumber. And the freshness of basil and salty Parmesan. A simple dressing, just a tiny splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lime completes this flavour fiesta.
Jalapeno peppers are among the milder peppers, as far as heat goes. In my family, we all love lots of spice and have pretty high heat tolerance levels. So I sometimes forget, when cooking for others, that not everyone has that same tolerance for spicy food. If you don't like spice, this salad will still be delicious without the peppers. You can also cut it down using only one pepper, and removing the seeds and core will reduce the heat as well.
- 3 strips bacon, sliced in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cups watermelon flesh, cut into 2" cubes or scooped into balls
- 1 cup English cucumber slices
- 2 large jalapeno peppers, sliced into rings
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice of one lime
- In a skillet over medium high, cook bacon pieces until just crisp.
- Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool
- In a bowl, gently toss together all remaining ingredients
- Add bacon and toss again to combine.
- Serve immediately
This salad is best when cold, so use produce ingredients that have been chilled in the fridge before making the salad.