If you're like me, you can't have watermelon without salt—and if the melon is in salad form, you instinctively reach for citrus and good extra-virgin olive oil. So I'm not sure why it took me until now to figure out that watermelon practically begs to be dressed with preserved lemon vinaigrette. It elevates a chilled slab of watermelon into something complex and completely addictive. Serve it as a snack, salad or dessert and feel free to play around with the garnishes. While I’m partial to cold watermelon, I’m pretty sure that grilled watermelon would be delicious treated this same way. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
Delicious! EmilyC’s cured-lemon vinaigrette creates the perfect salty foil to sweet summer melon. This dish has a burst of flavors and textures. It comes together quickly and without fuss, making it ideal for a hot day. I cubed the melon to permit the dressing to coat it more evenly, and served it over crisp romaine lettuce for extra crunch. Toasting the sunflower seeds is a must—it punches up the flavor and adds crispness. —creamtea
Rind of half of a preserved lemon, rinsed and finely diced (about 2 tablespoons in total)
fresh lemon juice, or to taste
of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil
mild, creamy feta (such as French or Bulgarian), crumbled or cut into small pieces
sunflower seeds (if using raw, lightly toast and cool before using)
To prepare the watermelon, cut the watermelon in half or into quarters (depending on size), then cut it into 1/2-inch thick slabs. I like to leave the rind on, but feel free to remove it. Set in the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.
To make the preserved lemon vinaigrette, combine the rind, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl or jar, and whisk well. The intensity of preserved lemons varies greatly, so taste the vinaigrette and add salt and/or more fresh lemon juice, if needed.
To serve, drizzle each watermelon slab with a little of the preserved lemon vinaigrette, making sure to get some of the rind that’s settled to the bottom of the bowl on each slab. Top with feta, mint, and sunflower seeds.