Monday, July 31, 2006

It’s not a Democracy at this Table

Yesterday it was Norton and Kramden. Abbott and Costello. Combinations that work well seemingly because their components are so different.

Today, it’s more along the lines of combinations that we’ve just never tried before. Nothing exotic. Just common ingredients. Ones that we’d not put together yet.

With some interesting tasting results.

A warning – it’s apparently not for everyone. The vote was split two for and two against.

I liked it, as did TeenGirl, for whatever that is worth.

The combination is watermelon, tomatoes and balsamic. With basil and mint. Fairly ordinary summer ingredients. We came across this idea in a variety of different recipes on the Internet, and sort of pieced together what seemed to be an interesting recipe from them.

The tomato / balsamic / herb combination is common enough.

For the naysayers, the surprising combination was not so much the watermelon / tomato pairing, although the acidy tomatoes contrasted sharply with the sweet watermelon. The surprise was more the watermelon / balsamic combination.

Apparently the watermelon and balsamic vinegar combined to be somehow ‘too sweet’ for some. Since I liked it, I can’t really explain first hand how this was a problem. The flavor was certainly intense. A little bit along the lines of the well known strawberry balsamic combination – which oddly enough everyone likes.

I liked it. The balsamic seemed to add a lot more depth to the watermelon flavor. That touch of acid adding some balance to the one dimensional watermelon flavor.

To me, the more surprising flavor contrast was exactly the tomato / watermelon. Without the basil and mint to ease the transition, I don’t think it would have worked too well. The acid in the tomatoes was just to sharp a contrast to the simple sweetness of the watermelon. But the addition of the basil and mint helped ease these two sharply distinct flavors into a flavorful harmony.

When you got a taste of everything at once – watermelon, tomato, basil, mint and balsamic – it was vibrant. There was a lot going on in your mouth at once. As said, to me it was great. Others were less enthused. But hey! More for me, right?

But I can say that the presentation is dramatic and beautiful (apparently hard to capture in a photo though). It’s a real centerpiece dish. Whether you like the taste or not, you’re sure to love the look.

Well, the dinner table is not much of a democracy. If half the group is not eating, no matter how good I think it is, this one will have to go into that list of recipes that get made only on the rare occasions when ‘certain people’ are not present. We just have to figure out how to organize this in the next few days so we can use the other half of the watermelon!

But give it a try! It’s easy to make, and you may find yourself on the side that likes it!

Watermelon, Tomato and Balsamic Salad
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4 as a side dish

½ of a large seedless watermelon
1 ½ pints grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
1 cup loosely packed chiffonade cut fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed chiffonade cut fresh mint leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

Cut watermelon in half again lengthwise, such that you have two quarters. Slice each quarter into fairly thin (1/4 to ½ inch thick) slices. Remove rind, and reserve.

In a bowl, toss tomatoes, basil and mint with some balsamic, salt and pepper. Drizzle in a little olive oil and toss.

Arrange the watermelon slices in concentric overlapping rings on a large platter. Splash lightly with balsamic vinegar (not too much – just a taste). Heap the tomato mixture on top. Serve. Enjoy!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting combination; beautiful presentation!


3:06 PM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Paz, thanks! Was fun to make and eat!

7:58 AM  
Blogger Kalyn said...


4:16 PM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Thanks, Kalyn!

5:42 PM  

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