The first truly hot days of summer have arrived. The sun beats down, the humidity closes in, and the last last last thing I want to do is turn on the oven, or even the stove. This is the kind of weather that gets me to thinking about cool, crisp, refreshing vittles. Little chilled bowls of juicy freshness. This time of year, as the environs simmer, I often turn to this wonderful recipe.
I found it many years ago in a magazine, and have been making it ever since, with a few alterations to make it (to my tastes) perfect. The ingredients are few, but they work together brilliantly, the richness of the dressing contrasting with the fresh snap of cucumber and watermelon, accented by the bite of herbal greeness and the salty crunch of peanuts. Perfectly balanced, simultaneously sweet, cool, and savory.
This salad can be used for many things, as a light meal in and of itself, as an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat, as a salsa scooped with chips, or as an accent spooned within tacos, quesadillas, and wraps. Use it however you like. My only suggestion is this. It doesn’t keep very well over time, so assemble right before serving, and consume all you want. It is so good, like candy, but without causing guilt.
Cucumber Watermelon Salad with Hoisin-Lime Dressing
3 cups watermelon, 1/2″ dice
1/4 tsp salt
2 large cucumbers
4 T fresh lime juice
3 T hoisin sauce
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Toss the watermelon with the salt, place in a strainer set over a bowl, and refrigerate for about an hour. In the meantime, peel and seed the cucumbers, and chop into 1/2″ cubes. Measure out 3 cups, saving the rest for another use. Whisk together the lime juice and hoisin sauce.
When the watermelon has finished draining, toss it together with the cucumber, the dressing, the herbs, and half the peanuts. Sprinkle with the rest of the peanuts. Serve immediately.