Lunchbox: Watermelon Salad

Even though it’s mid-July, I had my first summer watermelon just this past weekend. It was excellent, and that one taste has brought a sudden craving on for more. I was reminded of a page from Forever Summer with a recipe for watermelon and black olive salad which at the time I walked right on by. I’m not one for olives, but right now I’m all for watermelon and salad.
Turns out it's not as original an idea as I thought - the Epicurious search brought up 15, and all with helpful comments on variations. I kept reading and thinking of bits and pieces I wanted to borrow from each one. In the end, I don't think it's so much exactly watermelon salad as it is salad, with watermelon in it, but enh - semantics.
I won't lie to you, this is a last-minute salad and requires that you carry several containers, which is points off in the lunchbox category. But it's worth the minor effort - I made the mistake the first day of trying to assemble it ahead of time, and while it was edible it was indistinguishable - and it pulls together quickly when you're ready for it.


for each salad portion:
1 large handful baby spinach mixed with mesclun greens
1/4 small vidalia onion
5 small basil leaves
1-2 oz fresh mozzarella
pecorino romano
1 small vine-ripened tomato
1 small ripe peach
3 to 4 3/4-inch-thick wedges sweet seedless watermelon

balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and black pepper

Take one large container for the salad and put in the mixed greens. Slice the onion very thinly and scatter over the greens. Cut the basil leaves in a chiffonade, slice the mozzarella, and add both to the bowl. Crack black pepper and grate pecorino romano over the greens. Put this in the fridge until ready to eat.
In a separate container, put the watermelon, cut into about 1-inch chunks. Refrigerate. Make yourself a small dressing in another container using the balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste (I won't give you quantities because I didn't measure, and this is a matter of preference. I happen to be a vinegar addict and so mine's lopsided that way). Refrigerate.
For lunch take your three containers of salad, watermelon, and dressing, plus the peach and tomato. When you're ready to eat, wash and dice the tomato and peach. Toss the salad gently to get that distributed a bit. Add the watermelon, leaving behind any drained juice. Whisk the dressing again and pour over. Toss to combine all and you're good to go.


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