Summer Salad

Watermelon Steak Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes & Sangria Vinaigrette, by CheFarmer Matthew Raiford

Though the weather here in Chatt Hills has been hot for months now (it is The South after all), Summer is officially upon us which has us thinking about the best foods to eat while you're out in the sun. This recipe from CheFarmer Matthew Raiford's cookbook "Bress 'n' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer" is *chefs kiss* perfect. You can even find a signed copy of the whole cookbook at our beloved Hills & Hamlets Bookshop in the Grange Textile Lofts. Happy dining!


From CheFarmer Matthew Raiford’s cookbook, Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer

I grew up eating Georgia Rattlesnake watermelons - that’s really what they’re called, because the dark green stripes resemble a diamondback rattlesnake. These heirloom varietals, which can grow up to 40 pounds, have a deep reddish pink flesh that is sweeter than sweet. Folks started growing them around here in the 1830s. When I was a kid, we’d throw them in the back of the truck and take them to market. Because they are harder to come by now, and because people have grown accustomed to seedless watermelons, I created this recipe to accommodate either. But I absolutely prefer a rattlesnake watermelon, which we grow at Gilliard Farms.**

For the salad

1 - 1½ lbs freshly mixed salad greens or microgreens

1 lb heirloom tomatoes of varying sizes and colors, such as Cherokee Purple, Yellow Brandywine, black and yellow cherry tomatoes

¼ medium seedless watermelon (5-10 lbs)

Olive oil for brushing

For the vinaigrette

1 cup traditional red sangria, either homemade or store-bought

½ cup olive oil

Freshly cracked black pepper

Sea salt

Prepare your grill for medium -high direct heat, 375 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While the grill comes up to temperature, wash and dry the salad greens, then divide the greens among four to six serving plates. Wash and dry your tomatoes. Slice the whole tomatoes into ½-inch rounds and halve the cherry tomatoes. Divide and arrange the tomato slices evenly among the plates. Set the plates in the refrigerator to chill while you finish the dish.

Slice the watermelon into ¾-to-1-inch thick “steaks,” then quarter the steaks into wedges. Brush each side of the watermelon with a little olive oil, then set the wedges on the grill for approximately 3 minutes per side, until you get grill marks. The longer you leave the wedges on, the sweeter they’ll get. Remove the watermelon from the grill and arrange among the salad plates.

Pour the sangria into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout, then whisk the olive oil into the sangria until it makes a nice, loose vinaigrette. Generously dress the salads. Sprinkle the salads with pepper and salt to your liking, then serve.

**Excerpted from Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright © 2021 CheFarmer Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon. Photography © 2021 by Siobhán Egan.

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