Watermelon Salads

My kids and I love summer watermelon. We usually just chomp on slices of it at the beach, but I recently incorporated it into two refreshing summer side salads.

The first was an adaptation of the classic Middle Eastern Tabouli Salad substituting watermelon for tomatoes. What a great idea! 🙂 The second was another classic Middle Eastern way of serving watermelon- with feta and basil. I made it for a party and was unable to capture it in a photo. You can (will have to!) imagine how pretty it looked. I had been unaware of how wonderful watermelon pairs with feta cheese- so simple and tasty.

The tabbouleh recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living and the watermelon-feta salad recipe was adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. Fresh, seasonal and delicious.

Tabbouleh with Watermelon

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat (I used coarse red bulgur)
  • 1 1/2 to 3+ cups peeled and coarsely chopped watermelon
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces soft goat or feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in bulgur, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let stand, uncovered, until cooled, 15 to 30 minutes. (I spread the cooked bulgur out on a rimmed baking sheet to speed the cooling process.)
  2. Transfer bulgur to a bowl, and toss with watermelon, parsley, scallions, oil, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Gently fold in cheese. Serve.

Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

Yield: Serves 4

  • 10 oz block feta (preferable sheep’s milk)
  • 4 to 5 cups of large-dice watermelon cubes
  • 3/4 cups basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Slice the feta into large but thin pieces, or just break it by hand into rough chunks.
  2. Arrange all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil, on a platter or bowl, mixing them up a little.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve immediately.

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Turkish Bulgur & Vegetable Pilaf

IMG_8920 - Version 2

Our favorite local Middle Eastern restaurant refers to this pilaf as bulgur “rice.” They have the Turkish coarse bulgur, Pilavlik Bulgur, that it is made with available for purchase- thank goodness. My entire family LOVES it.

A couple of years ago, the owner of this restaurant was part of a Middle Eastern cooking class at our local library. I was disappointed that I was unable to attend the class and then upset when I found out that he made his bulgur rice!! I was able to track down his recipe through the library… but have since misplaced it in my GIANT piles of recipes to try. (You thought this was going to be the special recipe, right?) Well, this version was perfect- IDENTICAL- and so delicious!! Yay!

This recipe was adapted from turkishfood.about.com, contributed by Elizabeth Taviloglu.  We ate it with shish taouk wraps- an amazing meal. 🙂

  • 2 cups coarse bulgur (Turkish Pilavlik Bulgur)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, grated and drained
  • 1 large tomato, grated
  • 1 small green pepper, grated
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • grilled peppers or tomatoes for garnish, optional
  • fresh Italian parsley or mint for garnish, optional
  1. Grate the onion in a food processor. Press your grated onion in a fine wire strainer to remove the juice as this can make your pilaf bitter.
  2. Melt the butter together with the oil in a covered skillet or shallow pan. Then fry the grated onion until tender but not brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grate the tomato and pepper in a food processor.
  4. Add the grated tomato and juice, and the grated pepper, season with salt and pepper, and continue to fry until the vegetables have softened and the liquid is reduced.
  5. Add the bulgur and work the butter and vegetables thoroughly through the dry bulgur using a wooden spoon.
  6. Finally add the salt, pepper, tomato paste, sugar and stock and stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low.
  7. Let the bulgur simmer gently until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Keeping the pan covered, remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool down. The bulgur will continue to steam inside the pot. For more even steaming, place a few paper towels under the lid.
  8. Gently stir the pilaf before serving to make sure all the ingredients are well blended. Garnish each serving with a piece of fresh or grilled pepper and tomato and some fresh Italian parsley or mint, if desired.

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