Intermittently over the last year, I’ve been tuning into this station called Yacht Rock A.K.A. Cheesy Blasts from the Past. It’s basically all of the soft rock songs that I detested when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and early 80s. On most easy run days, I’ll head over to Spotify and shuffle around Solana Beach and Del Mar, listening to songs such as The Pina Colada Song (while marveling that the songwriter actually used the print classified ads and not a dating app while seeking a romantic encounter), Captain and Tenile’s Love will Keep Us Together, Elton John and Kiki Dee’s Don’t go Breaking my Heart (whatever happened to Kiki Dee, anyway?) and tons of stuff by almost forgotten bands such as Alan Parson’s Project, the Carptenters and Player. Yacht Rock Kitch is definitely breathing a 2nd life into Toto and Ambrosia. I must be 50, I mean, who runs to Yacht Rock…..seriously…..?

 

Who knew that Ambrosia would be BACK?

Summer is heating up and the 4th of July is just around the corner. This is the time of year when just-picked vegetables shine and I end up putting what are typically referred to as side dishes in center of the food stage. For one of the lazy get togethers next week, I’ll be serving this Cherry Tomato and Watermelon Salad along with a decadent Red and Blue Potato Salad with a Blue Cheese Dressing; Grilled in-husk Corn on the Cob “Elote” styleGrilled Romaine-Vegan Caesar Style Salad and one of my staples; Sweet Potato-Black Bean Salad with Grilled Red Onions and Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette.  A little flavorful cheese really makes the salad. I eat very little dairy (and actually have an allergy to cows’ milk) but when I do, it is usually high quality cheese, butter in a pastry from an exceptional bakery or a small taste of a premium ice cream.

This cool tomato and watermelon salad gets a flavor boost from fresh mint and basil

Notes

  • I cut the tomatoes and watermelon into fork friendly size pieces-meaning that the cubes fit onto a fork and easily into one’s mouth. One of my particular culinary peeves is when I get a salad with whole cherry tomatoes—who hasn’t tried to stick a fork into one, only to have it shoot across the table?
  • I use the mixed color pints of cherry tomatoes with red, maroon, orange and yellow for a pretty contrast of color. Conversely, you could use red tomatoes and yellow watermelon, which is visually appealing
  • Some grocery stores sell containers of cut-up watermelon. If pressed for time and you don’t want to purchase a whole watermelon, grab one of these and cut the cubes down to a “fork friendly” size (yeah, I’m driving that point home)
  • Because I like the salad to look fresh, I use white balsamic vinegar as regular balsamic vinegar darkens the feta cheese
  • Toss Salad together just before serving because as it sits, it gets juicy and eventually breaks down

Sweet Cherry Tomato, Watermelon, Mint and Basil Salad with Feta Cheese

Serves 4-6 as a side

White Balsamic Vinaigrette for Salad

  • 6 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced Shallot or White part of Green Onion
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Combine in a closed lidded jar and shake for 10-15 seconds or until emulsified

For the Salad

  • 1 pint mixed color Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 2-3 Cups Cubed Seedless Watermelon
  • 3 Cups Spinach Leaves (2-3 handfuls)
  • 3-6 Tbsp Vinaigrette (If you like a lightly dressed salad, reserve half of the vinaigrette or for another use)
  • 6-8 Basil Leaves, cut 1/8” thin strips chiffonade (or ribbon cut)
  • 6-8 large Mint Leaves, cut 1/8” thin strips cut chiffonade (or ribbon cut)
  • 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese (optional if dairy-free)

Preparation

  • Just before serving, combine the Cherry Tomatoes, Watermelon cubes and Spinach Leaves with the vinaigrette in a large bowl
  • Sprinkle the Mint and Basil on top
  • Sprinkle the Feta and Black Pepper on Top

So happy to share this salad with you. I’m now off to do an easy run. And listen to some Yacht Rock.