Grilled Watermelon, Cherry Tomato and Brynza Salad

This dish is inspired by a recipe from John Besh’s My New Orleans, a book that mysteriously arrived on my doorstep without me even ordering it. I was immediately seduced because it combined typical Caucasian ingredients — watermelon, tomatoes, cheese and herbs — in an unusual fashion. Indeed I must say I’d never tried or thought of grilling watermelon before! My main contribution was to focus on slightly fewer flavors and reinforce the presence of products from the region: goat cheese was replaced with brynza, pepper jelly vinaigrette and balsamic vinegar with honey. This is a great summertime dish, and if you happen to make your own white wine, this would be great to eat with it!

Grilled watermelon
Yields 4 servings

1/8 of a seedless watermelon
1 1/2 oz olive oil
3/4 oz light, liquid honey
salt

  • Remove the rind of the watermelon, and cut into 12 triangles, about 3/4″ thick. Mix the olive oil and honey, and brush on both sides of the triangles. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Season the watermelon with a little bit of salt, and cook on a hot grill just until you see hatch-mark patterns on both sides. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

24 cherry tomatoes of various colors
salt
black pepper, ground
top-quality olive oil
grilled watermelon
3/4 oz rocket leaves
3/4 oz purple basil leaves
4 oz brynza (or Bulgarian feta)

  • Lightly char the cherry tomatoes with a blowtorch, then toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil.
  • On each plate, place 3 triangles of watermelon, surrounded by 6 cherry tomatoes. Toss the rocket and purple basil with salt and a little bit of olive oil and arrange on the plates, then crumble the brynza on top. Serve immediately.