Two options here: one to make things simpler and the other to make things more complex. For those wanting an extra bit of work, top the salad with 70g of pickled watermelon rind, which we recommend making well in advance. Instructions for making it, along with our enthusiasm for doing so, are on pages 31–2. The rind adds a welcome astringency to the dish but, with the preserved lemons and olives already there, the salad is still delicious without. Those wanting to simplify matters even more can bypass the olive-marinating stage – just buy some olives that are already marinated in herbs and spices and add 50ml of olive oil to them.
- Serves four to six
- 1 small watermelon (1.6kg)
- Kalamata olives:
- 50ml olive oil
- 1 medium red chilli, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 small garlic clove, skin on and lightly crushed
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 35g preserved lemons skin, julienned (the skin from about 2 small preserved lemons)
- 25 black Kalamata olives, pitted (100g)
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
- To serve:
- 100g feta, lightly crumbled into 1–2cm chunks
- 70g pickled watermelon rind, drained (optional; see introduction)
- 15g basil leaves
- 10g mint leaves
- Place the olive oil for the olives in a small saucepan on a medium heat with the chilli, garlic, thyme, rosemary and preserved lemon, along with ¼ teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper. Warm through gently for 4–5 minutes then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool, then pour over the olives. Set aside until ready to use: they can be used straight away but their flavour will intensify if you keep them marinating for 24 hours before serving.
- Quarter the watermelon, cut out the red flesh and set the skin – with the white rind attached – aside. Cut each section of red flesh, widthways, into 1cm thick slices, then cut each slice into smaller triangles, about 6cm long and 3cm wide. You will need 600g of flesh (discarding the seeds if you like) for the salad, so anything in excess of this can be set aside for snacking. If pickling the watermelon rind, see here for instructions on what to do next.
- When ready to serve, spread the fresh watermelon wedges out on a large platter or individual plates and sprinkle the feta on top, along with the pickled watermelon rind, if using. Spoon over the olives and their marinade, discarding the garlic, rosemary and most of the thyme. Finish with the basil and mint leaves, tearing them as you go, along with a couple of sprigs of the thyme and serve at once.