Growing up, I was served and came to enjoy fruit as a solitary food group. In my household fruits, regardless of their color, texture or versatility, were eaten alone. Never did they mingle with other fruits or foods. There was no fruit salad, no cereal topped with fruit and no fruit-embellished dishes of any kind including desserts (well, with the exception of Banana’s Foster and Cherries Jubliee which were served only on special occasions and usually prepared by my Uncle Teddy). I never thought twice about it until I entered my late teens and began dining out on my own and salivating over the glossy pages of food magazines. Only then did I begin to realize I had been missing out on some pretty awesome food combinations. As the years past, I casually began incorporating selective fruits into various sweet and savory recipes. While I must admit that there are many popular fruit-inspired dishes I detest, like chocolate with raspberries and green salads with mandarin oranges, there are many more that I love. And the list continues to grow. One of my latest attractions is to savory watermelon plates. They’ve been all the rage for the past couple of years and I finally understand why. When introduced to sizzling grates and hot coals, the natural sugars of the fruit carmelize to form a slighty chewy bite. When topped with savory garnishes, which in this case are salty prosciutto, tangy feta and an intense balsamic glaze, the one-dimensional melon is transformed into a multi-dimensional flavor bomb. So good!
Grilled Watermelon with Prosciutto and Feta Recipe
1 small seedless watermelon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 16 strips
1/3 cup crumbled feta
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste
Bottled balsamic glaze and fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Remove rind from watermelon and cut into 1-inch slices. Cut slices into 16 3×3-inch squares (reserve extra for another use). Place watermelon squares in a single layer on a stack of paper towels and let sit for 15 minutes, or until most of the excess moisture is absorbed. Brush both sides of the watermelon slices with oil and season to taste with salt. Place on the grill and cook until grill marks appear on both sides, about 3-4 minutes total. Transfer to a serving platter and top each with a strip of prosciutto and 1 teaspoon feta cheese. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper. Garnish with a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze and basil leaves. Serve immediately. Makes 8 appetizer servings.