Even if a trip to the South of France isn't on your agenda for this summer, there's no reason to deny yourself the taste of light and healthy cuisine. On Morning Living Recently, Chef Terrance Brennan of the restaurant Picholine shared with us a summertime appetizer that is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Try it out at your next outdoor occasion!
Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Feta, Tapenade, Crostini
For the tapenade:
1 cup pitted Nicoise olives (from about 2 ½ ounces pitted olives), or 4 ounces unpitted olives*
2 (preferably salt-packed) roughly chopped anchovy fillets, soaked, drained, and patted dry
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cognac (optional)
Black pepper in a mill
For the salad:
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tablespoon honey
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper in a mill
About 3 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups loosely packed arugula (about 2 ounces arugula), tough stems removed, well washed in several changes of cold water and spun dry
½ cup crumbled goat cheese feta (from about 3 ounces cheese)
For the Crostini:
4 crosswise slices country bread (boule) approximately 6 inches high and ½ inch thick
2 tablespoons (pack) finely chopped anchovy fillets (from about 8 fillets, soaked, drained, and patted dry)
3 cloves garlic confit, or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons finely snipped flat-leaf parsley
1. Tapenade: Put the olives, anchovies, capers, garlic, and orange zest in a blender. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream, stopping to scrape the sides down periodically with a rubber spatula if necessary. Continue to puree until mostly smooth but a bit pulpy.
2. Transfer the tapenade to a container, stir in the cognac, if using, and season with 4 grinds of pepper, or to taste. Set aside.
3. Crostini: Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet and broil until crisp and lightly golden, approximately 1 minute. Turn the slices over and broil until crisp and lightly golden on the other side; the bread should be crusty on the outside, but still chewy. Remove the sheet from the oven and set aside to cool.
4. Meanwhile, put the anchovies and garlic confit into the bowl of a mortar and pestle and mash into a paste. Add the oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano and continue to mash into a coarse but spreadable mixture. Spread the paste on the toasts, then cut the toasts in half. Set aside.
Note: These toasts can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 1 hour. When ready to serve, pass under the broiler for 30 seconds, then finish with the parsley.
5. Salad: Make the vinaigrette: Put the lime juice, honey, and olive oil in a mixing bowl and whisk them together. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and about 6 grinds of black pepper. Add the tapenade to the bowl and stir it into the vinaigrette.
6. Divide the watermelon cubes among 4 chilled salad plates. Dress the arugula with the vinaigrette and divide among the plates, piling it atop the watermelon. Scatter some crumbled cheese over each salad. Garnish each plate with 4 crostini. Serve.
*The olives in this recipe may be substituted with whatever olives you like, such as Kalamata or Picholine.