Here is a colorful appetizer that not only looks amazing, it tastes great too! Impress your friends and family at your next get together with this Basil Balsamic Ricotta Salata Grilled Watermelon recipe.
Yes, that’s right, grilled watermelon! Have you ever tried it? I assure you that once you do, there is no going back. You probably know that grilling is a great flavor enhancer. This is also true when fruit is grilled. The heat will actually intensify the sweetness of the fruit, by caramelizing the natural sugars (We are not cooking the watermelon, we are only searing it a few minutes on each side on a very hot grill).
Another flavor enhancer is the ricotta salata. This cheese contributes a salty, almost tangy flavor to the dish. As strange as it sounds, the saltiness of the cheese brings out the sweetness of the grilled watermelon and provides the perfect balance in this dish. You should be able to find this cheese in your specialty cheese shop. In a pinch, you can easily replace it with either feta or a goat cheese.
The addition of fresh basil, a few pinches of sea salt and a drizzle of high quality balsamic vinegar is all that is needed to round out the flavors of this dish.
This is not the first time I have paired watermelon with a cheese. If you recall, this Easy Watermelon Feta Mint Salad also highlights the wonderful combination of sweet and savory. Be sure to check out this link for the recipe. In this post, I also share how to choose the best watermelon.
Nutrition Trivia Time: Whether eating it fresh or grilled, there is no denying that watermelon is a thirst quencher. Did you know that approximately 91% of each melon is water. No wonder it’s called a watermelon! The high water content of watermelon also makes it the perfect food to use in soups and beverages.
You might also be surprised to learn that despite the fact that watermelon is mostly water, it is a very good source of both vitamins A and C. It is also a nutritional powerhouse as far as antioxidants are concerned. In fact, watermelon has 40% more lycopene than fresh tomatoes. This powerful antioxidant may help reduce the risk of certain conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Although there are exceptions, lycopene is also responsible for giving fruits and vegetables that bright red color. So papayas, pink grapefruits and guavas, join tomatoes and watermelons as good food sources of lycopene.
Origins of the recipe for Basil Balsamic Ricotta Salata Grilled Watermelon:
As an avid collector of recipes, and much to my husband’s dismay, I have boxes and boxes of food magazines stored in my garage. This Basil Balsamic Ricotta Salata Grilled Watermelon recipe is inspired from one that I originally clipped from a bon appétit magazine, dating back to 2005. Thanks to the power of the internet, the original recipe can be found here.
I love the intensity of flavors developed by grilling fruit (grilled peaches is also a favorite of mine!) and so I decided to use grilled watermelon with the combination of ricotta salata and basil. The original dressing consisted of lime juice and olive oil. Over the years, I have made a simple recipe even simpler. Just before serving, I will drizzle a high quality balsamic vinegar to the grilled watermelon. That’s it. I have also excluded the pine nuts included in the original recipe.
I encourage you to adapt this recipe to your own personnel preferences. My family and I love ricotta salata, but if you prefer, either feta or goat cheese will work well in this recipe.
Each bite of this easy, refreshing and delicious grilled watermelon recipe will provide you with an explosion of flavors.
This Basil Balsamic Ricotta Salata Grilled Watermelon recipe is the perfect, no fuss appetizer for your next get together with family and friends. What are you grilling this weekend?
- 4 triangular slices of watermelon, rind on, about 1 inch thick (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6-8 ounces of ricotta salata cheese(175 - 225 grams)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, torn or cut into thin strips
- a few pinches of sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoons high quality balsamic vinegar
- extra basil leaves for garnishing (if desired)
- Heat grill pan on high heat.
- Brush the sides of the watermelon lightly with the olive oil.
- Once the grill pan is hot, sear each side of the watermelon for 1-2 minutes.
- Place watermelon on serving dish and allow to cool slightly.
- Crumble ricotta salata over top of grilled watermelon.
- Sprinkle with basil leaves and pinch of sea salt.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar just before serving.
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