As the summer comes to a close (already, you say?), many of us are looking for ways to prolong the tastes of the season, which seemed all too short this year. Pickling, of course, is one of them. Chef Josh DeChellis of La Fonda del Sol believes that the locavore movement is, at least in part, responsible for the renewed interest in pickling — as a way to not only preserve local produce, but to keep eating locally even out of season.
“I have been serving pickled watermelon in some form or another for years,” says DeChellis, who shares his recipe for Pickled Watermelon Salad. “The avocado represents fat and salt, the melon is sweet, sour, and spicy… along with the aromatic herbs and lettuce, this dish, although light, hits all the major flavor receptors.”
Pickled Watermelon Salad
1 cup yellow watermelon, cut into 2-inch long batons
1 cup red watermelon, cut into 2-inch long batons
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
sugar, to taste
1/2 jalapeno pepper
2 tsp pimenton
Sriracha, to taste
olive oil, to drizzle
sea salt, to taste
handful leaves opal basil, shiso, and mache, to garnish (currently available at Greenmarkets)
Place the yellow and red watermelon batons in separate jars with tight-fitting lids. Use scraps from the yellow watermelon and puree with champagne vinegar, sugar, and the jalapeno. Strain and pour over yellow watermelon batons, sealing the jar with lid. Repeat for red watermelon batons, using the red watermelon scraps, red wine vinegar, pimenton, and Sriracha. Strain and pour over red batons, and close jar. Let both mixtures rest for 2 1/2, but no longer than 12, hours. This is how long it takes for the vinegar mixture to pass the cell walls of the melon without compromising their structure.
Slice the avocado and arrange on 4 plates. Sprinkle with salt. Divide red and yellow watermelon batons evenly among plates and drizzle with remaining pickling liquid and olive oil. Garnish with opal basil, shiso, and mache, and serve.