This weekend’s weather was weird. Tiny rain spatters while the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, fierce winds that weren’t a precursor to anything swirled around the Presidio, and that low gray sky that San Franciscans call Earthquake Weather, hung over us for two straight days.
Needless to say, a pick-me-up was in order, and that pick-me-up turned out to be watermelon salad and a quick batch of sangria. Bonjour, Summer!
Not only are these recipes easy (easy easy), but they’re showstoppers. Homemade sangria sounds more impressive than the effort required (shhh, don’t tell!) and watermelon salad is the perfect blend of crunchy and fresh, sweet plus salty, and light yet filling.
Make these together for the perfect contribution to a picnic or potluck, or just have it for lunch! Yep, sangria for lunch. You’re pretty and you worked hard this week. You deserve it.
WATERMELON SALAD + SANGRIA
. One medium to small watermelon. I used a mini-melon, and it was much more flavorful and easier to handle than a usual, giant melon.
. Two medium cucumbers, or one quite large cucumber
. One red onion
. 1/2 cup goat cheese (or more if you feel like it – cheese is delicious!)
. 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves
. EVOO, lime juice, pepper
. One bottle of lushy red wine (cabs, syrahs and fruity red blends work well)
. One bottle of white wine (fruit-forward varietals like pino grigio or riesling)
. 1/2 cup of sugar
. Your choice of fruit, up to two cups (depending on the size of the serving vessel), but definitely include limes, as you’ll use them for both recipes, and they give any dish a perfect pop of color.
1. In a large pitcher, combine the two bottles of wine, then stir in 1/2 cup sugar.
In an earlier iteration of this recipe, the ratio was 1:1:1, bottle: bottle: cup of sugar, but the mixture was so sweet the sangria was going down like juice, and my party guests were going down right along with it. I’ve learned my lesson, and I now let the wine and fruit take center stage. Nobody wants to be that drunk that soon – trust me.
2. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for as long as possible, to let the sugar disperse and the flavors to gel together. Three to five hours is great, but overnight is even better if you have time to plan ahead.
3. When you’re about 30 minutes away from drinking your sangria, dice a quarter of the red onion and place it in a large bowl with a splash of lime juice and a little drizzle of EVOO. Let it marinate for ten minutes. The liquids cut the bite of the onion and help it incorporate better with the fruit.
4. Time to slice and dice! Cut your sangria fruit into wedges, for easy garnishes, throw it into the pitcher and continue refrigerating until the fruit soaks thoroughly. I like sweet Meyer lemons, oranges, mild apples, and limes, but de-pitted cherries, blueberries and pineapple can also stand up to sangria. Avoid fruits that are too porous and will mush quickly, like strawberries and raspberries, or fruit that will overpower, like cantaloupe.
5. Scoop your watermelon into bite sized balls, for easy forking. If you don’t have a melon baller (as I discovered I didn’t – FAIL) then a teaspoon measuring spoon will also work. Next, peel the cucumbers and slice them into thick rounds and halve, and loosely crumble the goat cheese and set it aside.
6. Toss watermelon, cucumber, mint, and goat cheese together in a serving dish, and drizzle with the red onion/juice/EVOO mixture.
7. Pour glasses, set table, eat salad, bask in the glory of summer. Even if it’s only summer inside your house.