Saturday, June 28, 2014

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

I have been retired for nearly four years now. The best part about being retired is that "every day is Saturday". But to keep your mind active in retirement, it is important to have interesting and compelling activities to fill up your day. While CrossFit and video games are the center of my universe, they did not adequately fill up my day. So I returned to a hobby I had started when my first son was born: watermelon carving.

I had just started my company when Sean was born and money was a little tight. Accordingly, I tried to save money using left-over watermelon rinds as disposable diapers. They were sturdy and had enough capacity to hold the remnants of four or five poop sessions. However, the rest of the family tired of having watermelon for every meal so I abandoned the practice.

I started this cooking blog when I retired and was so inspired by my Weber Performer Grill that I created the charming little sculpture shown above. 

Steve and Taffy Hirtz (aka Staffy) are two of my closest friends. I was there at the hospital when their son was born and the birth inspired me to create this piece of art, which I called "Damian: The Omen":

Damian owns the CrossFit gym where I train. There is another trainer there that inspired me to create "The Blackstone": 

Every Friday, we have a Team Workout of the Day. My usual partner inspired this carving, which I titled "Bob, My Delicate Flower":

The joy of having this hobby is that I always have a massive quantity of watermelon on hand. And while most people think of watermelon as a standalone fruit, I am going to share one of the most incredible salad recipes with you that I have ever tasted. It is essentially summer in a bowl. You will be astounded by the flavors!

The recipe was created by Alex Guarnaschelli. The key here is to use cold watermelon and room temperature tomatoes. While the acid/sweet combination is spectacular, the contrast in temperatures makes the salad especially refreshing. This recipe serves six.

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 large beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
4 strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
1 cup cubed watermelon

  1. Whisk the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Taste for seasoning: add salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and slice beefsteak tomatoes. Arrange in a single layer and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with half the dressing. Add the tarragon and strawberries; toss.
  3. Divide the tomato mixture among plates. Drizzle with more dressing and top with the watermelon. Serve

Wine pairing: A big fruity Sangria

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