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Matt’s Ultimate Summer Salad

Matt Armendariz's heirloom salad

Matt Armendariz's heirloom salad

I try to treat all my seasons equally. I love tender young vegetables in spring long and rich braised meat and stews in autumn. But if you really want to know what gets me going then we only need to chat about summer. It’s where my favorite flavors come together: cool and hot, sweet and smoky, bold and beautiful. It’s a time of year when intense flavors play well with just about everything and everyone gets along peacefully.

Perhaps my favorite summer food would be the tomato. I’m not talking those anemic, pale versions lacking flavor that you’re likely to find in the supermarket in February. I’m talking big beautiful red orbs that get their flavor from warm sunny days, the ones packed with, well, real tomato flavor. They’re rich, sweet and allowed to ripen on the vine, unlike those supermarket varieties. And they deserve to be featured in recipes that don’t mask their flavor, dishes that don’t obliterate and overcook their seasonal special qualities.

This Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad is a favorite of mine. It’s the flavor of summer on a plate and a cinch to prepare. You’ll only need to spend a few minutes at the stove cooking the glaze (I usually make extra as I love dipping pineapple and melons into it as a snack). The crumbled feta gives this salad its saltiness which is heaven with the sweet flavors of melon and tomato. It makes a wonderful starter or even a perfect way to end a grilled dish.

Matt’s Refreshing Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad
Serves 4

1 small seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 heirloom tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
1 tablespoon mint, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese
salt to taste

honey-balsamic glaze:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the honey-balsamic glaze: Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to reduce by half, remove from heat and cool.

Place watermelon, tomatoes, mint, and oil in a bowl and gently toss together. Season with salt. Portion the salad onto four plates and top each with a crumbling of feta and a drizzle of glaze. Serve.

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