If there’s one thing I really have to thank the local farmers for, it’s the big vining melons, like watermelon and cantaloupe.
I lost my head a little at the garden center this spring and decided it would be a great idea to grow spaghetti squash. And corn. Kind of a two-thirds of the traditional “Three Sisters” planting. (A three sisters garden consists of beans, which trail up cornstalks, and squash that crawls along the ground under the corn and beans, all mutually beneficial.)
Actually, it is a great idea — especially the corn, which is beeeyoootiful so far — but, ever the small garden space optimizer, I planted both in my garlic garden, knowing garlic would be harvested this month, freeing up the space for the squash. What I didn’t plan on was for the squash to take off like a shot so quickly, growing up and over the garlic in a matter of weeks. Like so:
D’oh! Squash vines for days.
The next challenge will be keeping the vines confined to a 10′ x 10′ space. I’m not optimistic.
So, people who grow all the awesome melons around here, I thank you. My yard thanks you. And with that, let’s have some salad!
I want to talk about the dressing for a sec. One of my favorite summertime snacks is cold, cold watermelon doused with a squeeze of orange juice and a pinch of salt. I look forward to that first bowl every year.
So, orange in the salad’s vinaigrette was a must. A stroll through my herb garden yielded some beautiful mint and French tarragon (and a heavenly scent from brushing against all of the fragrant leaves), and I was all set.
My orange mint vinaigrette goes great on this salad, and I’ll also be using it on straight up fruit salads this summer — it’s light and fresh and herby.
For the salad here, I made avocado slices, watermelon cubes, and cucumber triangles, but you can chopped it up however the muse strikes you. It will all be gorgeous and delish. (Those are yellow bell pepper dices, btw. I love sweet bell peppers and they go in almost every salad I create.)
When the summer humidity moves in and hangs her hat on the hook on the door and starts leaving the cap off the toothpaste and empties the morning coffee pot, cool off with a refreshing meal of sweet and crunchy watermelon cucumber avocado salad topped with a light and tangy orange mint tarragon vinaigrette. Serve with a side of ice cold fruit and enjoy the summer flavors!
- zest from one orange
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 heaping cups mixed salad greens
- 1/2 fresh lemon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper diced (optional, for crunch)
- 1 tablespoon minced red onions
- 1 avocado peeled and sliced (discard pit)
- 2 cups watermelon cubed
- 1/2 cup cucumber diced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon for garnish
- crumbled cotija or feta cheese for garnish
Add the dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk (or use an immersion blender) until blended. Set aside. (Can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.)
To assemble the salad, toss the greens with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, then divide among two bowls. Sprinkle bell pepper and red onions over the lettuce. Arrange the avocado slices, then spoon the watermelon and cucumbers on top. Garnish with the tarragon and cheese. Serve dressing on the side.