Chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, a restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, serves a version of this refreshing dish during the late summer. Smith says he developed the salad after paying a visit to a few of his former cooks in Mexico, where he discovered a range of dishes that melded sweet, spicy, and sour flavors.
- 1⁄4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 3 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
- 1⁄2 small red onion
- 4-lb. piece of seedless watermelon
- 4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 1⁄2 lbs.), stemmed and cored
- 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 loosely packed cup roughly torn basil leaves
- 1 loosely packed cup roughly torn mint leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk vinegar, sugar, salt, and cayenne together in a small bowl.
Quarter and thinly slice onion and toss it in the vinegar mixture. Set aside to let rest until the onion softens and mellows, about 30 minutes.
Remove the rind from the watermelon, cut into 1" chunks, and transfer to a large bowl. Cut tomatoes into 1" chunks. Combine the tomatoes with the watermelon chunks. Pour in the onion-vinegar mixture along with oil and toss gently with your hands. Add basil and mint and toss gently. Season the watermelon and tomato salad with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve salad at room temperature on its own or alongside grilled fish or meat.