I chose to add this salad to the menu when I had been asked to cater a luncheon. It seemed like a natural, refreshing fit with the other foods we had chosen. I decided to try it out in advance, at a brunch after my mil's birthday party. It was a smashing success! The salad is so deliciously unexpected and truly beautiful, with colorful fruit and citrus Dijon vinaigrette, everyone loved it!
And again at the luncheon, I've been told that people have been raving about it for days. So here's the recipe. It comes from The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, which so far I highly recommend.
Isn't this beautiful? The second time I chopped the watermelon smaller, probably about a 1/2" dice. Still looks fabulous! I doubled the recipe both times I made it, using an entire watermelon, and it easily feeds 25+ people as a side dish. I used mint that I harvested from my garden. Also, the recipe recommends serving this as individual salads, which would be great, but I think it's much more impressive on a huge platter. Use a set of salad tongs to serve from a platter.
You can make the dressing a day or two in advance, and I chopped the watermelon, sliced the oranges and onion and washed and trimmed the watercress the night before. Just store each ingredient of the salad in a separate container until ready to assemble.
Watermelon and Citrus Salad with Mint
(the book says 6 servings, but I think it would serve more)
"Whole grain mustard is an especially good way to add both flavor and texture to a vinaigrette, but regular Dijon works nicely, too."
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large bunches watercress, thick stems trimmed (I just used kitchen scissors to remove about halfway up the stems)
4 cups 3/4-inch pieces seedless watermelon
4 oranges, peel and white pith removed, each cut into 6 rounds (if the oranges were larger, I cut them into 8 rounds each)
4 thin red onion slices, cut in half and separated
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
Whisk first 5 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper. *(I just measured the dressing ingredients, including olive oil, right into a small jar with a lid. Stored in the refrigerator until a couple hours before serving, then shook up and poured on the salad!)
MAKE AHEAD: The dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk (or shake well!) before using.
Scatter watercress on platter (or divide among 6 plates). Top watercress on platter or on each plate with watermelon pieces, orange rounds, onion slices and mint (dividing equally if dividing). Drizzle salad with dressing and serve.