Tag Archives: Watermelon salad

WATERMELON, LABNEH and DUKKAH salad

Sometimes the simplest things can be fabulous especially when revisited. Compliments time after time after time and great for summer! This is what I have presented as a starter – labneh, dukkah and watermelon with a sprinkling of fresh mint and a dressing made mainly with pomegranate molasses.

Labna-watermelon-2-452x300

It has been a while since I have made dukkah or Labneh (labna, lebnah, labne, labni,). Both are simple to make and are very versatile. I like having things on standby and both keep well in the fridge in a sealed glass container.

Dukkah is a dry spicy mix of sesame seeds, nuts (can be hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts) and spices – mainly cumin and coriander – but variations also include small quantities of black pepper, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Apart from dipping good quality bread into extra virgin olive oil and then into dukkah, I may use it as a topping for cooked vegetables and salads or a crumb coating for meats, fish, cheese or vegetables.

I use a heavy frypan to toast everything. I used a combination of pistachio, walnuts and pine nuts in mine. If you use pine nuts they will need very little toasting – they burn quickly.  I also added pepitas; this seemed appropriate because of the watermelon.

¾ cup sesame seeds
½ cup coriander seeds
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp salt
1 cup of nuts
some white and black pepper corns
a pinch of or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg
Place nuts in a frying pan and over medium-high heat toast them until they begin to colour. Remove from pan and set aside.
Toast coriander seeds and sesame seeds the same way as the nuts and when they are nearly golden add all of the spices, salt and pepper corns.
Let cool. Blend together. On this occasion I blended the nuts separately as I wanted them to be chopped in larger pieces.

Figs, labna & olives 3 _best

Labna is strained yoghurt and can be used in both in savoury and sweet dishes. It is popular in the Middle East and I mostly use Labneh as I do feta, for example to stuff figs or in dips.

Labneh

500 ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Leave the yoghurt to drain about 8 hours or longer. I usually place mine to drain in the fridge.
Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yoghurt can drain off naturally.
Place the drained yoghurt in a bowl.
Coat hands with extra virgin olive oil and shape Labneh into egg shaped balls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and store in the fridge until ready to use. If you intend to store the Labneh balls for more than a day cover with extra virgin olive oil.
When it is time to serve it, drain it and top with fresh herbs or dukkah.

Dressing for Watermelon, combine together:

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 lemon: juiced + zest
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of sesame oil and of flower or orange water
1 fresh chilli, cut finely (optional)

 

To assemble

As you can see from the photo I assembled the balls of Labneh first on a plate coated with extra virgin olive oil.
I surrounded the watermelon pieces around the Labneh and sprinkled everything with some dukkah, mint leaves and the dressing.

GELO DI MELONE (Jellied watermelon)

Viva la Vida, Watermelons Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo’s last painting is Viva la Vida,

Summer is the time for watermelon.This post was first published 02/13/2009 and republished 01/08/2020

Watermelon is related to the squash family and there is a Sicilian saying that it does not matter whatever you do to a zucca (squash/pumpkin) it always remains such – tasteless.

Frida Kahlo obviously did not think so. I saw the above painting at a Frida Kahlo exhibition in the Botanical Gardens in New York in 2015.

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Sicilians also like watermelon and they make a dessert with it called Gelu ‘i muluni (Sicilian for watermelon jelly) – an old Sicilian recipe and once a popular dessert. Many Sicilians say that this dessert has Arab origins and it is easy to see why. The addition of the extra flavourings – vanilla, cinnamon, rose water, chocolate and pistachio transform the taste of what is basically liquefied watermelon juice solidified with corn starch.

As a child living in Trieste, I always called watermelon, anguria as it is called in the north, but when we visited Sicily (my family went there every summer), it was called melone. 

I always notice people buying big slabs or whole watermelons at the  Queen Victoria Market and in Australia watermelon appears to be more popular with those of us who have come from a different cultural background. Have you noticed in Asian restaurants as it is often presented as a palate cleanser at the end of a meal? Or the Greek and Italian families eating watermelon at the beach?

When my son was young, he was very friendly with a Turkish family and he used to report that over summer, there was always watermelon at his friend’s house. They ate it with bread; this is not surprising when watermelon can be used as an ingredient for a watermelon salad (made with feta, black olives, sliced onion, extra virgin olive oil, seasoning and mint) this salad, now popular in many Australian homes..

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Although this dessert is very easy to make, it does look very attractive and your guests will think that you have gone to a lot of effort – much more so than just serving up slices of watermelon.

One kilo of watermelon is sufficient to make 4 desserts.

INGREDIENTS
ripe watermelon, 1k
sugar, 100g
pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon
rosewater, 2-3 tablespoons (or jasmine water – steep flowers in some hot water overnight)
cornstarch , 40g
pistachios , chopped, 50g
chocolate, chopped, 50g
candied citron,( Sicilians use Zuccata – candied zucca (squash/pumpkin family) 50g
cinnamon, 1 stick.
 
Remove rind and seeds and liquefy in food processor or blender (1k of watermelon gave me 1 litre of juice).
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and add some watermelon juice gradually to form a smooth paste.
Add rest of the juice and the cinnamon stick and on low heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and rose water.
Discard the cinnamon stick, pour it into a bowl (or individual bowls) and place it into the refrigerator until required. The pistachio and chocolate can be sprinkled on top when ready to eat or wait till the gelo is cool and then fold in the solids before refrigerating.