For the past few years, I’ve been working on and off for a small catering company located in the San Francisco Bay Area. My journey began helping the founder and owner prep for events in his teeny tiny kitchen. I was so eager to find out what working in the food industry was all about that I was ready to do whatever he needed me to even if that meant washing dishes all day. Since then the company has grown and a professional kitchen staff has been put into place. Now I help with coordinating small events in my spare time. Here’s the problem: I am constantly surrounded by amazing food and have little chance to actually eat and enjoy it myself. It’s torture, I tell you!
I got really excited a couple of weeks ago after having worked an event to eat some leftovers of this delicious and refreshing watermelon salad the chef had made. What I enjoyed most about it was the unique combination of ingredients that he used: watermelon, fennel, and ricotta salata. For those of you that are familiar with ricotta which is a soft fresh cheese used in Italian dishes, ricotta salata is a variation of ricotta that has been pressed, salted and dried. It is very mild and has a nice salty bite. Typically, you will see watermelon paired with feta cheese and works just as well here.
I took a stab at recreating this salad in my own kitchen a couple of days ago and am happy to report it was a success. There are a lot of different flavors and textures going on between the sweet melon, crunchy fennel, and salty bite from the cheese. The honey-lime dressing with a bit of freshly chopped mint help to bring all of the flavors together. I will definitely be making this all summer long and hope you will, too!
Watermelon and Fennel Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
- 4 cups watermelon cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup ricotta salata or feta cheese cut into 1/2″ cubes
- Juice of 1 large lime
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt