With winter well and truly over, new season produce is hitting our farmer’s market stalls. After a long hiatus watermelons from Far North Queensland are making a very welcome reappearance. The secret to choosing the sweetest and juiciest melons? Tap them. The hollower sounding, the better. Or so the market stall holder advised me as with some trepidation I selected my orb, dubious that any watermelon would be perfectly ripe so early in the season. So confident was he in his method that he promised me if I wasn’t happy with the sweetness to come back and he would give me another free.
What to do with an entire 8 kg watermelon? I have three days to figure it out before we go on holidays. Last summer I incorporated sweet, refreshing, low calorie melon into my 5-2 recipe repertoire. On hot, humid days we feasted on a 181 calorie per serve Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad with Pistachio & Parsley and Lime, and our freezer was well stocked with 57 calories per stick Watermelon, Mint and Lime Paletas.
As always, on a fast day, I’m on the hunt for big, vibrant flavours that trick my mind into thinking I am eating a more substantial plate of food. Today we’re trying something rather unusual. Cool, crisp watermelon slices paired with salty, squeaky, char-grilled haloumi. The whole platter drizzled with a zesty, chilli infused, herbaceous chimichurri dressing. Granted, on paper, it is a decidedly odd sounding combination, but it’s a taste explosion in your mouth that most definitely works. Better still its an interesting plate of food for just 215 calories a serve.
The star of the show that brings everything together is the chimichurri dressing. Packed full of a cornucopia of fresh garden herbs, my version substitutes hot water for a substantial portion of the third cup olive oil traditionally used. At just 26 calories per tablespoon, it’s a dressing I will be using liberally this summer feast day or fast. It pairs beautifully with all manner of grilled, fish, meats a chicken, and is a great condiment for burgers and sandwiches.
Watermelon And Grilled Haloumi Salad With Chimichurri Dressing.
Serves 4 (215 calories per serve)
250g seedless watermelon, rind removed and sliced into 3cm squares (75 calories)
180 g block haloumi cheese (612 calories)
1 teaspoon olive oil (120 calories)
2 tablespoons chimichurri dressing (52 calories)
HEAT a griddle pan until smoking.
MEANWHILE slice the haloumi into 10 -12 thick rectangular slices. Place into a shallow bowl and drizzle over a teaspoon of olive oil. Toss well to coat.
GRILL the haloumi cheese on both sides until golden brown. Set haloumi slices aside to cool slightly as you start to assemble the salad.
ARRANGE watermelon and haloumi slices attractively over a large platter. Drizzle over the chimichurri sauce. Serve immediately.
Makes 3/4 cup or 12 tablespoons (26 calories per tablespoon)
2 cups soft green herbs, roughly chopped, stems removed (I used a combination of basil, coriander,mint and parsley from my herb garden)(44 calories)
2 stems fresh oregano, leaves stripped (2 calories)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised (12 calories)
1 long red chilli (8 calories)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (6 calories)
2 tablespoons olive oil (240 calories)
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
a good grinding of black pepper
COMBINE all ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a food processor, and pulse until well blended.
POUR mixture into a small bowl, and whisk in the oil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavours to meld.
REMOVE from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before using to bring the dressing to room temperature before serving.