The best summer salad ever! Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette
There are three things that say summer to me: watermelon, fresh ripe tomatoes and sweet corn. The recipe today has all three items…except the corn. So, I guess technically, it only has two of the best summer ingredients. But, that’s okay because you are going to love it so much that you won’t even miss the corn.
Who doesn’t like to go to the Farmers Market? I can’t think of anyone. Usually I just wander around looking at everything without a thought in my head of what we should make. Yes!Chef! sometimes will find something that inspires him, but my inspiration usually comes from the pretty colors, shapes and arrangements. I buy things for their photographic value, not the yumminess that can be created. That’s Y!C!’s job.
But yesterday, I was on a mission to find Heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and goat cheese for this very recipe that I had in mind ever since I tried something similar at a local restaurant called Evans American Gourmet Cafe in South Lake Tahoe. Yes!Chef! took me there last week for our 31st anniversary and I had this wonderful Grilled Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat cheese and balsamic dressing.
I found some heirloom tomatoes and purchased two large ones. I also stopped by the Dedricks Cheese booth and asked for their recommendation for goat cheese for the recipe I was making. She recommended a Chèvre from Jollity Farms, a local farm out of Garden Valley, CA.
Of course it was a beautiful cool day in Tahoe, with lovely clouds. So, I was able to take a few photos before I jumped back in the car to head home.
I guess I will admit that I had tried this recipe the day before using some tomatoes from the grocery. I also tried grilling the watermelon.
I also used goat cheese brie rather than plain goat cheese. I’m not sure how the chef at Evans grilled the watermelon, but mine did not turn out well at all. It had a really funky flavor and the tomatoes I got from the store tasted like mush. Goat cheese brie did not go over well, either. It was the wrong texture and the wrong flavor. This is why I decided to go to the Farmers Market, get really good product and nix the grilling part.
Although Yes!Chef! was not available, he would have been proud of me.
So, armed with fresh, wonderful ingredients I decided to change up my game plan.
The original recipe at Evans had alternating round layers of heirloom red tomato and grilled watermelon, as in the above picture. But because my first try at this recipe was such a disaster, I went in a different direction. I decided to cube up the watermelon and heirloom tomatoes (I used yellow) and form a little square on the plate.
Now, I know my cubes are not perfect and I probably would have even been prettier if I had taken out my ruler and made sure they were all alike. I, frankly, have better ways to drive myself crazy. So, you can do it this way or make rounds. I like the squares, because you can spear a watermelon and a tomato square very easily to get them both in the same mouthful (that will make you very happy.)
Then I added homemade balsamic vinaigrette, the Chèvre and some chopped up basil. Top it all off with a nice finishing salt, like pink sea salt, or other nice sea salt.
I also found some squash blossoms that looked pretty on the plate and I can also use later on with left over goat cheese.
After I finished photographing it…
I tasted it…
And I swear I heard angels singing. My bite consisted of one piece of watermelon and one piece of tomato with the balsamic vinaigrette running down both of the pieces, mixed with the watermelon and tomato juice, and topped with goat cheese and basil. It was a perfect bite. An Amuse Bouche of perfect flavor…sweet, acid, umami and salty. Wow! I ate both plates and thought about making more.
So, here’s my recipe.
Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1 large heirloom tomato
- 1 personal watermelon, or a small watermelon
- 3-4 leaves basil, julienned
- 2 oz. good goat cheese
- Finishing salt such as sea salt
- 1 Recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Cut watermelon and tomatoes into 1″ rounds and then into 1″ cubes. Place on plate alternating watermelon and tomatoes.
- Spoon balsamic vinaigrette over the top of salad.
- Sprinkle goat cheese over the top.
- Top with julienned basil leaves
- Sprinkle with salt, to taste.
Alternately, you can cut both the tomato and the watermelon into 1″ rounds. Find a small glass the same size as the tomato rounds and use it as a “cookie” cutter on the watermelon
Alternate watermelon and tomato rounds on a plate. Then finish the salad.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe
- 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp. brown sugar (to taste) we used Splenda brown sugar blend
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil
Mix all ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl. Slowly pour in oil mixing the entire time. Place in a vinaigrette jar (or a mason jar) and chill for about 15-20 minutes while you are making the salad. Give the dressing a good shake before using.
Easy, fresh, delicious and the perfect summer salad. You can add some bread or a muffin if you like for a fresh and simple lunch. It works well as a snack too…but I didn’t get so fancy with my snack. I just chunked up the tomatoes and watermelon and threw them in a bowl. I poured the dressing over, salted it, mixed it around and threw on the cheese and basil. Doesn’t look as pretty but when I was done, I felt like licking the plate. I won’t show you my messy snack but I will show you another picture of the beautiful and tasty salad. (And, it’s manly enough for men. I’m making it for Y!C! tomorrow night because he saw the pictures and wants to try it.)
Oh! And here’s the obligatory photo of Obie T. Dogg (who does not do salad.)
Try the salad! You will not regret it.