Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dinner Party Series: Nicole’s Watermelon-Tomato Greek Salad

This is the best and most refreshing sweet variation on a Greek salad that you’ll ever taste - just as good at a picnic as it was for the Dinner Party Ron and I hosted last night! 

NicoleWatermelon-Tomato Greek Salad

NicoleWatermelon-Tomato Greek Salad:

1-3/4 lb. (795 g) heirloom grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise 
1 seedless mini-watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1-1/4-in. cubes
3/4 tsp. coarsely ground salt
Generous grinding of coarsely ground black pepper, to taste (see Note)
1 tbsp. granulated sugar, to taste 
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar or blood-orange vinegar 
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
10-to-12 pitted kalamata olives, whole
1 c. soft goat cheese, crumbled 
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

In a medium work bowl, lightly combine tomatoes and watermelon.   In a small covered jar, shake together salt, pepper, sugar, oil, and vinegar. Pour over tomatoes and watermelon, tossing lightly. Let stand 20 min., stirring occasionally. Add bell pepper and kalamata olives, again tossing lightly. Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkling with soft goat cheese and parsley. Serve at once. 

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Now, then! I greatly modified this recipe from one I found in the July, 2013 edition of The New York Times Magazine - so much so, that I can call this salad an original. Because I made it for a Dinner Party, I’ll show you how the table looked! But first, a couple of notes on making everything sparkle: Would you offer wine glasses with lipstick on the rim? Plates that are chipped or marked with thumb prints? No, you would not. So pay the same caring attention to your cutlery, whether its silver or stainless steel.

I have a brick-load of silver plate cutlery I began collecting it when I was 18, more than mmmffff-mmmfff years ago. I use it and polish it regularly, storing it in plastic so it will stay clean longer. It’s a myth that you can’t store silver in plastic: What’s good enough for silver museums is good enough for me. Use and enjoy your precious possessions!

Store your silver in plastic bags!

What’s already clean doesn’t take long to clean again. If I can avoid it, I’d rather not have tarnished forks at my table. Adding cutlery to each place setting requires thought and precision: Walk yourself through each course so you won’t forget anything important.

Clean cutlery with a cloth impregnated with  
jewelers’ rouge for a residue-free job.  

I enjoy tablescaping: If you don’t, do whatever feels good for you. It usually takes me awhile to achieve the look I want. Part of my fussing involves arranging the cutlery, plates, glasses, and serving dishes on the table in a way I find pleasing. I dont measure anything, but try to do my best to ensure the cutlery is an inch from the edge of the table and equidistant from the plate for each setting. 

Fussing at this early stage is well worth the extra time.

It takes awhile to build the look of any table. Have patience and work slowly. I chose a blue-themed table because it reminded me of my favorite Greek restaurants - and this was a Greek meal.

We sampled Retsina - white wine flavored with pine-resin. 
The Greeks have made this type of wine for more than 
 2,000 years. I served it in this $8 decanter I found in a 
tiny Italian town some 20 years ago ... a nice memory

At the very last minute, I added some blue glasses 
for our taste-testing. Retsina is definitely an acquired taste! 

Our guests had fun ...

And so did Ron and I ... 

And thats what its all about! To set the mood, Ron played Greek music on his iPod. You’ll find other entertaining tips under the Dinner Party Series heading in this blog’s Index.

Note: If you enjoy a cool summer salad, try my Watermelon-Feta Salad, indexed under Salads: Watermelon-Feta.

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