Recipe Day- Mint Watermelon Salad- from child grower A. Woz.










How about a trip to Italy with Italian Food Artisans (805.963.7289)  

Take a culinary vacation in Italy, a food and wine lovers dream,  wine tasting, cooking classes, explore the Cinque Terre area via train or better, by walking.  

Great to imagine, yes?

But a wee bit unrealistic for this time in our lives, huh.

I’m settling for living vicariously thru this article in the August 2009 Cooking Light, where it describes winemaker dinners, cooking demonstrations, meals in private homes, herb harvesting, and culinary workshops.  I’m there!  Okay, in my head, I’m there.

So I have to settle for making a summer salad using some fresh herbs from my front step flowergarden where I planted some mint this spring.  Mint is grown everywhere, but originated in the Mediterranean and grows best where the soil is fertile and moist and yes -all the worries about it being invasive, and taking over as if it were a weed- are valid. 

I transplanted one small mint plant from my AeroGarden, a silver sunlamp growing kit with an irrigated water system that can be used to grow a few herbs indoors. The fake garden well lit by two bulbs has served as a source of imitation sunshine on those dreary overcast days of the last months of winter and has fooled many visitors into thinking that I had a window with a direct link to the Sun Goddess in the corner of my cooking area.

 The AeroGarden was a gift my children proudly gave me in December and though half of the plants we tried to growing hydroponically did not make it,  the strong stalks of mint thrived.

The one plug of seed that we transferred from indoor grower is now a very large patch of good smelling greenness.  I cannot resist growing it outdoors, knowing I can go out in my pajamas in the early morning hours and step my bare toes into the earth, and crouch down at eye level with several waving stems of fresh mint in the dawn of any new day.   

Before the children are stirring, before my grocery list starts forming itself inside my brain, before the news and the messages of the day invade my mind, I move to the flowerbed that surrounds my porch, and gather up a peace filled moment from the giving ground.  

I flick a beetle from the top of the plant, making sure that it lands feet down and scurries away and no worse for the launch, then I turn back to my task of  pinching off the tops and pulling random browned or bug bitten leaves and tossing them aside.  The few offending weeds that have dared to invade the bossy mint patch are plucked and tossed, root and all, over my shoulder,  like a bit of salt, discarded, but somehow bringing good luck.

I put my fingers around the lower section of the plant, count three leaf segments  up from the root and remove the top half of the arm of mint.  It still waves at me,  forgiving me for my abuse,  preparing to come back fuller and stronger since I have stripped these fragrant pieces from its growing limbs.

The smell on my fingertips is not of fresh ground coffee anymore, but has been changed now to a skippy menthol breeze lilting around my nose and the oils are making my palms turn pale green. The  handful of stolen greenery releases its grip on the stalk and gives up its leafy life. The only resistance it can make in this sacrifice for my salad is a waft of the familiar, this fresh scream of aroma from the torn mint leaves in my grasp,  a recognizeable bold and classic morning announcement,  proclaiming  that dawn has indeed arrived and is stealing back the day from the darkness.

As though I have been kneeling in a valley of wildflowers and plants, perhaps at the base of the terraced vineyards on a steep hillside in the northernmost village of Italy, I see myself gathering herbs into an apron and saying, “Ciao!” and “Ciao bella!” as though I am a native and from some happy family of wisened winemakers.   This transformation requires no flight to Milan, no landing near Pisa, no train trip to the Italian countryside.  The journey begins from just this small sprig of fresh torn mint, traveling on a  journey to a watermelon salad.  

Today, maybe for this entire summer, I feel content to remain in my pajamas, tiptoeing past pillows cradling the sleepy heads of my still silent children, content to invade my mint patch before creating a simple salad right here, in my Midwest kitchen. 

Mint Watermelon Salad

Seedless watermelon cut into cubes
1 pint of yellow or grape tomatoes halved
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 of a lime
1/4 c. feta cheese crumbles
15-20 fresh mint leaves, torn or chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
Combine watermelon and tomatoes, salt and olive oil.  Squeeze lime juice over the top, toss.  Add mint, feta and fresh ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Cooking Light, 2008.


 ### by Annita Woz for Child-Grower Blog July 28, 2009.


3 Responses

  1. I so am there, just love putting my mind right in this spot in Italy. We must go before we die, let’s please make a plan to go and eat well and love much!
    I have the feta and will top salad with it tonight! Thank you so much for sharing it with me!!

  2. Italy needs us. We shall make it happen. Until then, we cook, we share good conversation and send the leftovers home with the people that we care about. It is a good life.

    Mangia! (I think that means Eat well in Italian- but I didn’t really study Italian all that long! I could be saying, “You are a mango! ” or something! LOL

  3. […] willow tree and the grapevine covered arbor in the side yard, we step back inside to add a spoon of Watermelon Lime Salad to our plates or to grab another serving of Totellini Mozz salad. While we chat, my husband who has […]

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