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.