This summer, my clients in Antiparos surprised me with a vegetable garden, and I have promised to use it to its full potential. So whatever the garden provides has priority on the table. Yesterday I was confronted with the first watermelon and cucumber, and I thought since they knocked on my door together I should find a way to highlight them together. The salad also includes mint from the garden, and it all comes together under an orange and grape syrup vinaigrette.
The lettuces needs to be washed in a bath of cold water with some vinegar and dried very well using a colander. Handle the leaves with your fingers with very gentle movements to avoid injuring them, so that they remain crisp and refreshing. Store washed and dried leaves, in between kitchen paper sheets and wrapped in cling film, in the fridge for a few days.
On a big shallow platter place, mixing them gently:
Green and purple lettuce, as described above, and torn in small pieces using your hands
Cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, deseeded with a small spoon, and cut in 1 cm strips
Spring onion greens, cut thinly
Mint leaves, cut in thin strips
and scatter on top:
Watermelon, deseeded, and cut in thin bite-size pieces. Use less watermelon than cucumber, you want it present sparsely.
For the dressing (I like to use jars for this purpose), blend together:
Reduced orange juice, 1/3 cup (place juice in a small pan and boil gently for about 15 minutes until concentrated in colour and flavour, 3 oranges should be enough for 1/3 cup reduced juice yield)
Apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp
Grape syrup, 2 tsp
Mustard, 1 tsp
Salt, 1/4 tsp
Then add three times the volume
Extra virgin olive oil
Pour the dressing, and some sea slat flakes, over the salad right before you serve, otherwise it will very quickly loose the crunch and freshness.