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Summer Watermelon Salad

June 11, 2018

Since summer is (officially) just around the corner, it's time that we embrace the warmer weather with some light, fresh summer foods.  This salad screams summer with its use of refreshing watermelon and cucumber, alongside some fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes.  Tie it all together with a balsamic reduction and a little seasoning, and you're good to go.  As is true with most salads, the amounts of each ingredient is completely up to your taste buds, so if you're not a big fan of cucumber, decrease the amount or substitute it with another one of your favorite vegetables.  And as far as presentation, have fun with it.  This salad can totally be served in a bowl with everything diced to the same size, or can be showcased more of what we chose to do above.  The choice is yours.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup balsamic reduction (recipe as follows):
     1/4 cup agave nectar
     1/2 shallot
     1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Seedless cucumbers, cut in desired shape
     2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Seedless watermelon, cut in desired shape
Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup vegan ricotta*

*store-bought is totally fine, but if you'd like to make your own, combine 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight and drained), 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a food processor until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

DIRECTIONS:

For the balsamic reduction, heat the agave in a saucepan over low heat until warmed through.  Add the shallot and balsamic vinegar, and simmer gently until the sauce has reduced to 1/4 cup and has the consistency of maple syrup, roughly 25 minutes.  [Side note:  The reduction will solidify quite a bit in the refrigerator, so make sure that it is thinner than a typical balsamic reduction when you decide to pull it from the heat.  If it does thicken up too much in the refrigerator, thin it out by whisking in a little water].  Remove the shallot, and cool down the reduction.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put your cut up cucumbers in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and add the white wine vinegar.  Keep in the water for 10 minutes, and then drain.

Assemble the salad by plating the cucumber, watermelon, and tomatoes.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves and ricotta, and drizzle everything with your balsamic reduction.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve immediately.

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