I grew up eating Georgia Rattlesnake watermelons—that’s really what they’re called, because the dark green stripes resemble a diamondback rattlesnake. These heirloom varietals, which can grow up to 40 pounds, have a deep reddish pink flesh that is sweeter than sweet. Folks started growing them around here in the 1830s. When I was a kid, we’d throw them in the back of the truck and take them to market. Because they are harder to come by now, and because people have grown accustomed to seedless watermelons, I created this recipe to accommodate either. But I absolutely prefer a rattlesnake watermelon, which we grow at Gilliard Farms.
1 to 1 1/2 pounds
freshly mixed salad greens or microgreens
1 pound heirloom tomatoes of varying sizes and colors, such as Cherokee Purple, Yellow
Brandywine, black and yellow cherry tomatoes
medium seedless watermelon (5 to 10 pounds)
Olive oil, for brushing
For the vinaigrette
traditional red sangria, either homemade or store-bought
extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
In This Recipe
Prepare your grill for medium-high direct heat, 375° to 450°F.
While the grill comes up to temperature, wash and dry the salad greens, then divide the greens among four to six serving plates. Wash and dry your tomatoes. Slice the whole tomatoes into ½-inch rounds and halve the cherry tomatoes. Divide and arrange the tomato slices evenly among the plates. Set the plates in the refrigerator to chill while you finish the dish.
Slice the watermelon into ¾-to-1-inch-thick “steaks,” then quarter the steaks into wedges.
Brush each side of the watermelon with a little olive oil, then set the wedges on the grill for approximately 3 minutes per side, until you get grill marks. The longer you leave the wedges on, the sweeter they’ll get. Remove the watermelon from the grill and arrange evenly among the salad plates.
Pour the sangria into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout, then whisk the olive oil into the sangria until it makes a nice, loose vinaigrette. Generously dress the salads. Sprinkle the salads with pepper and salt to your liking, then serve.
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