Recipe: Melon Tower Salad (for hot days)

This post originally appeared a few days ago as a guest blog on Kellan's Kitchen. It's the first in a three-part series on savory fruit dishes. Kellan is an amazing private chef in the Bay Area and Tahoe - check out his site!

I'm currently sitting in my parents' kitchen on a cool 95° day in Chico. All I can think about it how nice this salad would taste right now (if I only had the ingredients!) and how guilty I'd feel if I didn't share it with you before summer in San Francisco really gets kicking. 

Melon Towers

Serves 8

Confession time: I’m a single lady with a bad fruit shopping habit. This time of year is especially tough - the glut of rosy stone fruit, taut melons, and perfect shiny berries at my local farmer’s market always makes me feel guilty if I don’t take home some of every kind.

As much as I’d like to eat pies and crisps all day and as likely as I am to gorge on watermelon straight over the sink, I needed to find a different route to using summer fruit, lest it be relegated to the compost bin. Savory dishes provide the perfect answer to this very good problem to have - a touch of sweetness can often temper a great savory dish, and a touch of sour or savory can bring out flavors you didn't realize a fruit had. 

Melon and feta salads are nothing new, but this recipe elevates them to new heights (pun intended). It’s simple and works very well for a summer dinner party, especially since you’ll need several melons to get the best rainbow effect and eating several melons on your own is tough. If you just have one melon or are looking to keep things simple, feel free to make a deconstructed version with cubed or balled melon.

  • 3 chilled melons of varying types & colors, including at least one watermelon (seedless preferable)
  • 3 limes
  • one small bunch of mint, stems removed
  • one small red onion or large shallot
  • 1 cup crumbled feta (French is nice)
  • high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • finishing salt such as Maldon

Slice the muskmelons (those with a cavity in the middle) in half width-wise and scoop out any seeds. Slice all melons into 1-inch round slices and set aside.

For each salad, stack one slice of each type of melon on your cutting board. Try to find rounds that match up size-wise, and put the watermelon on top so the hole will be covered. With a sharp knife, cut down the sides of the stack to remove the rind. Squeeze a lime over the stack (I make sure to get in between the layers, too) and transfer the stack to a plate.

With a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice the onion into fine slivers and set aside. Cut your mint into ribbons. If your knife is not sharp and is bruising the mint, try tearing it instead.

Top each melon stack with a small amount of finishing salt, a few onion slices, a sprinkle of mint, and some feta crumbles. A drizzle of oil on the plate adds a beautiful finishing touch. Serve chilled with a glass of fruit-forward rosé.