When salad looks like THIS, who could resist? Just in time for summer picnics and barbecues (and 4th of July in the US), I'm sharing my take on the classic watermelon, feta and mint salad. I’ve added steamed beets to the mix because I love the contrast of the earthy, al dente bite of the beet with the crisp, juicy watermelon, as well as the various hues of pink and purple from watermelon, beet and a touch of red onion. (I used a golden beet too, but red works just as well.) The salad is dressed with a simple but vibrant trio of lime, cilantro and olive oil and finished with chili and feta; the perfect supporting cast to elevate the produce. I’ve served the salad in several ways and included three ideas below the recipe.
Tapping into the Satisfaction Factor
While the wellness diets of today are fixated on which macro nutrients to include and exclude, leading us further down the road of food paranoia and obsession, I encourage my clients to all but look the other way so they can see food through a different (kinder, yet still effective) lens. A lens that allows them to remember food serves not one, but two purposes: nourishment and satisfaction.
The science of Intuitive Eating - one paradigm I work through to help clients heal their relationship with food - tells us this: When we give ourselves permission to enjoy food (without guilt or shame) not only will our mind and body sync and naturally gravitate to a reasonable balance of nutritionally healthy and play foods, but we will stop struggling with food. Food will cease to have what Intuitive Eating calls the "forbidden fruit effect". And our mental and emotional energy will become available to focus on more fulfilling parts of daily life.
Mindful eating is one strategy to increase meal satisfaction. If you're subscribed to my newsletter that went out today you already have my three favorite mindful eating strategies for summer meals! But another strategy is prioritizing four non-nutritional elements of a meal, several of which are incorporated in today’s summer salad.
Spice: the use of dried spices, fresh herbs and aromatics such as ginger, garlic, turmeric
Texture: contrasting crunchy, creamy, chewy, course, smooth
Temperature: We tend to equate healthy with cold, light and raw. Think salads, smoothies, yogurt, granola, wraps. But are you getting enough warm, cooked meals, especially in the spring, fall and winter seasons?
Novelty: How often do you try a new recipe, new spice or a new combination of familiar ingredients?
Watermelon Lime Beet Salad with Chili & Feta
Serves 4-6, depending on use
Notes: Recipe calls for steamed beets. Steam them yourself or buy the pre-steamed beets sold in vacuum packed bags in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Pictured is a red and yellow beet but using just red beets work just as well.
2 medium beets, cut into 1/2 in. cubes
3 cups (480 gr) cubed watermelon, cut to match size of beet cubes (~ half of a mini watermelon)
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro + an extra handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced (or 2 shallots, sliced in thin rounds)
2 fresh chili (red or green), thinly sliced
Feta, to taste
Steam beets for 15 min, or until fork tender.
While beets cook, in a small bowl mix together olive oil, lime, salt and 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro. Set aside.
Alternate layers of cooked beets, watermelon, red onion and some of the chili and roughly chopped cilantro in a large, wide serving bowl or platter. Drizzle with dressing and top with more cilantro, chili and feta. (Note: I like arranging the salad this way so the beets don't stain the rest of the ingredients. If this isn't a concern for you, feel free to *gently* toss everything together, except feta, using a large spoon. Then top with feta, cilantro and chili.)
3 Serving Ideas
Serve as a side salad
Serve on a platter, topped with grilled shrimp, chicken, or tempeh, etc. with flatbread/pita on the side.
Make lettuce cups! Fill butter lettuce, romaine leaves or conehead cabbage leaves with cooked quinoa, chickpeas or orzo/chickpea rice. Add watermelon beet salad and top with avocado. (Pictured below.)