Melon salad quenches thirst

Jill Wendholt Silva
The Kansas City Star (TNS)

Thirsty from standing outside at a summer food festival in the scorching heat, I recently stumbled into a local juicery and pulled a beverage from the cooler that was designed for hydration.

The pricey watermelon juice also contained Himalayan sea salt. I know, you’re thinking: how trendy.

While sprinkling salt straight onto your watermelon might sound a bit unorthodox, (or a reason to bump up the price point), in moderation salt triggers your taste buds to salivate, and the fruit seems sweeter.

Salty and sweet are actually a natural flavor pairing: Think of how salted caramel has taken off. Sounded weird at the start, but now we know better. Then there’s the classic prosciutto-wrapped melon. Or this Watermelon Salad With Cucumber, Feta and Mint.

This refreshing summer salad uses a sprinkling of feta to bring out the sweetness in the cool watermelon. The balsamic vinegar glaze, which you can buy or make, layers on another salty-sweet component that adds a richness and elegance to the salad.

Healthwise, watermelon is 92 percent water. It also contains a fair amount of vitamins A and C.

Shopping tip: You can purchase balsamic glaze in a bottle by the vinegars in the grocery store, or you can make your own by bringing 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer about 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by half. Cool. Cover and store in the refrigerator. This is also excellent as a glaze on grilled salmon or in salad dressings.

Serving tip: You can easily double this recipe or cut in half to best suit your menu. This is a great accompaniment to any grilled meat.

Watermelon Salad With Cucumber, Feta and Mint

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

31/2 cups chilled, seedless watermelon cubes (cut into bite-size pieces)

1 medium English cucumber, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic glaze (see notes)

Scatter watermelon evenly on a medium platter with short sides. Add cucumber and mint evenly over watermelon. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.

Per serving, based on 4: 82 calories (23 percent from fat), 2 g total fat (1 g saturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 82 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber.

Recipe developed exclusively for The Star by professional home economists Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss.