Serious Eats: Recipes

French in a Flash: Watermelon, Arugula, Chevre Salad

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

I am not at all opposed to themed food. Last year's Valentine's column was a traditional Coeur à la Crème, a heart of sweet cream surrounded in a sweet strawberry sauce. This year, my Cupid's arrow is watermelon salad with baby arugula, honey-balsamic syrup, and torched goat cheese—something pink, which may lead down the road to something blue if you play this Sunday night right.

The key to romance is to share a meal, but to not eat anything too filling—or too smelly (hence a salad, with no onions, no garlic). This salad is composed of planks of sweet pink watermelon, with baby arugula tucked gently in between the Napoleon layers, drizzled with a balsamic reduction sweetened with honey, and then topped with olive oil, fleur de sel, black pepper, and goat cheese, which you then set aflame with a kitchen torch until it boils and bubbles and turns soft and charred. It's magnificent—plus I just used the words "pink," "baby," "honey," and "aflame" all in one sentence to describe it. How much more romantic can you get?

This salad is unusual, overly easy, and impressive. Once your Valentine sees you wielding a kitchen torch with finesse at the table, I assure you you won't be at the table for long. I would serve it with a glass of rosé champagne, and some baguette, and maybe a petit pot au chocolat for dessert, but then forget about the food and the dishes, which the great French romantic Pepe le Pew termed the "preliminaries," and spend the rest of the night engaged in more enticing pursuits.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.

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