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Summer Watermelon Salad with Basil Oil

So this sweet & savory summer salad special sold out tonight! It’s so easy to make and is a beautifully balanced combination of bright flavors with darker saltier undertones....without too much of either salt or sugar. In fact the only sweetness comes from some perfectly ripe & juicy watermelons. The other key ingredients are some black olives (kalamata are the tastiest option but regular black olives are fine, some basil pesto, basil oil and balsamic glaze. At the restaurant I make this salad with Bulgarian feta cheese but you can also use almond milk ricotta cheese if you’re keeping it super clean or if you’re dairy free. I topped it with some “Bulls Blood” microgreens, but regular arugula or even a few basil leaves will do. Be flexible and playful when combining ingredients to customize it!!

Chef’s Notes: You can totally omit the black olives if you prefer. I only use a few, maybe three total for each plate. Also, it’s really easy to make homemade basil oil. I’ll include the recipe and directions below. You can use it on tomatoes, in other salads, on chicken, on fish, on pasta. It has SO MUCH FLAVOR! That’s a great way to use overgrown summer herb gardens if you have excess wilting basil laying around. But you can also buy it. Lastly, you don’t have to use a mold at home. It sure makes it look fancy and you can certainly impress people with it but you can DEFINITELY let this salad take shape organically by just tossing the ingredients onto a small plate!! No need to complicate our lives!!!! As always, post your photos and check moments and ENJOY!!

Ingredients- • ripe watermelon diced, about 1/2 cup • olive tapenade (finely diced black kalamata olives seasoned with a pinch of dried rosemary) • 2 tbsp feta cheese (OR almond milk ricotta cheese) • a drizzle of basil oil • a drizzle of balsamic glaze (my recipe for that was previously posted here...just search for it in the group or just use balsamic vinegar if you’re in need of a shortcut) • a few sprigs of Bulls Blood microgreens or a few leaves of arugula or fresh basil

Instructions- 1. Use a ring mold. If you don’t have one, you can cut the top off of a solo cup or a cardboard coffee cup. Make that about 1-2 inches thick. 2. Press down the diced watermelon into the bottom of the mold usof no the back of a spoon. 3. Then press the feta or ricotta cheese on top of the watermelon, also using the back of a spoon. (You’ll need to use a little more force with the feta. The ricotta will compress easily.) 4. Around the outside of the mold, drag the olive tapenade around the plate. Then drizzle just a bit of basil oil between the islands of tapenade. 5. Over the whole plate drizzle the balsamic glaze. I made the pattern of an atom on this plate in the photo but do whatever pattern makes you happy!  6. Finally top the cheese with the greens and then carefully remove the mold.

𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥 𝐎𝐢𝐥 𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐞

Ingredients: • a few handfuls or bunches of fresh basil • 1/2-1 cup of olive oil • a few pinches of sea salt and ground pepper

Directions: 1. Submerge the basil into a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes ONLY. Then IMMEDIATELY submerge the boiled basil into a bowl/bath of ice water. (This is called blanching). 2. In a blender or food processor, combine the blanched basil (stems and all) with the oil until a pesto-like paste is formed. (Adjust your oil quantity accordingly. Start with the smaller amount.) 3. Strain the mixture using a “chinois” mesh strainer or even just a fine mesh strainer that you might use for straining pasta. (You can get one at Walmart or Target). When I have the time, I pass it through the mesh strainer twice. 4. Discard the pulp. You should be left with a bright green, VERY FLAVORFUL oil that may also have some grainier textures at the bottom when it settles. That’s fine!!

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