What a sublime summer we have had in the bluegrass! With all of the sunshine and rain our garden is just flourishing, and it’s hard to believe fall is here. However, I must say this grilled melon salad with caramelized onions & cherry tomatoes topped with a raspberry mint vinaigrette has been worth the wait. It is so colorful, so refreshing, and such a fantastic combination of flavors you will be looking forward to and savoring this “thyme” (could not resist) every year.
Summer Mixed Melon Salad
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
½ cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons honey
splash of bourbon
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds seedless watermelon, sliced into triangles, rind removed
½ cantaloupe, deseeded, cut into melon balls using a parisian scoop
½ pound arugula
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3-4 whole fresh thyme sprigs
8 ounces feta cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
Using a food processor or vitamix blender, add all of the ingredients except the oil and blend until smooth. Slowly add the oil in a small stream until the mixture is emulsified and evenly blended.
Heat a grill or a cast iron grill pan to a high heat. Once the grill is smoking hot sear the watermelon on both sides (about 2 minutes per side), set aside until ready to plate.
In a small sauce pan heat the butter or coconut oil on a medium high heat. Add the sliced red onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize to a deep golden brown. Add in the cherry tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low and continue to caramelize until the tomatoes start to pop open and sweat. Add in the balsamic vinegar, thyme sprigs and sugar, continuing to cook and reduce until syrupy (stir occasionally). Remove the thyme sprigs from the pot before adding the tomatoes to the salad.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the arugula and mix with the fresh lemon juice and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Once the cherry tomato mixture has reduced and caramelized (about 15 minutes) remove from heat and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before adding to the salad. To assemble the salad start with a bunch of the arugula mixture, topped with slices of the grilled watermelon and three to five melon balls. Top with feta cheese crumbles and cherry tomato reduction. Drizzle on the raspberry vinaigrette and garnish with additional mint leaves or chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy immediately! A salad this good should be consumed with joy and anticipation!