A refreshing, summer recipe that can be served as a snack or at the end of dinner. Armenian cucumber adds an interesting dimension to the dish.
Watermelon with feta cheese salad is a traditional combination that’s been enjoyed throughout Greece. A few days ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine and at the end we were served watermelon. Usually, watermelons are in season during August, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted the sweet, juicy and aromatic flesh of fruit that came as a compliment of the restaurant (it is a common practice in Greek restaurants to offer you some kind of fruit or semolina halva at the end of dinner, with no charge). It also happened that I had some pieces of feta left inside the bowl of my side-salad so, naturally, I started eating them together. When I saw the surprise in my friend’s face, I asked him if he had tasted this unusual combination before, only to get the answer that he hadn’t. I later checked and realized that watermelon with feta is very popular in some parts of Greece, while very uncommon in a few others! But trust me, once you taste it you will never go back!
But know I have a confession to make. When I was very young, I was a very picky eater. There have been many times that I have returned my plate to my mother stating to her that I don’t want the different components of my food touching each other. Yes, that’s right… Even when dinner was entirely cooked in one pot, like this Mediterranean green bean stew with potatoes, I didn’t want one ingredient touching another. You wouldn’t want me as your child!
But fortunately, while growing up, I learned to eat almost every kind of food, and appreciate the different benefits of each food category. Hope this is some kind of comfort for all the mothers out there with picky children!
But what is an Armenian cucumber exactly? Well… the Armenian cucumber is actually a type of melon, which makes it a fruit and not a vegetable. But it tastes a lot like a regular cucumber, only it’s drier and crunchier. Are you confused yet? 🙂
It is usually eaten with its skin, but you can peel it if you want. In Crete it’s called “ksilaggouro” which in free translation means “wooden-cucumber”. Below you can see two of them whole, though you can find much more elongated ones.
When choosing watermelons (and any other kind of fruit) you want the fruit to be “heavy” compared to the rest. What this means is that if you weight two fruits of the same size/volume, then the one that’s riper will have more juices so it will be a bit heavier. Also, when buying whole watermelons, the bottom part of the fruit (the part that touches the ground) should be white, and the fruit should give a hollow sound when knocking it with your knuckles.
Armenian cucumber adds an extra level of crunch ot this salad.
Greek feta cheese is made of sheep and goat milk (usually 70% sheep milk and 30% goat milk). So check the ingredients and get yourself real feta cheese!
When using raw olive oil, extra virgin olive oil is preferred.
- 2 cups watermelon in cubes, cold
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled or in cubes, cold
- 6-7 spearmint leaves, chopped (or mint or basil)
- 1 cup sliced Armenian cucumber and each slice cut in half (you can also use regular cucumber)
- A pinch of black sesame seeds (omit this if you don't like the taste)
- A drizzle of olive oil
- Combine watermelon, feta Armenian cucumber and mint in a large bowl, sprinkle with black sesame seeds and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive oil.
- Serve cold.
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