We happen to love watermelon just as it is. There’s nothing quite like having a thick slice of crisp, icy cold watermelon during the heat of summer. Even so, we’re always up for something new. And, when we saw this recipe, we thought, let’s scratch it out in the test kitchen. After all, who thinks of adding what’s essentially a salad dressing to watermelon?
With that question in mind, it’s not surprising that we found this in The Laws of Cooking and How to Break Them, by Justin Warner. Now, we don’t think there are any real laws of cooking, but we will agree that certain foods have a natural affinity for one another. You only have to think of tomatoes and basil to know that this is true. So, let’s see if this recipe really breaks any laws. We will mention that the original recipe was for about twice the amount, and it had instructions on how to make fresh Herbes de Provence.
First up, we refer you to our recipe for Scratched Sour Cream as a substitute for Crème Fraîche. It’s milder and softer than sour cream you might get in the store. If you’re not up for making your own, we suggest that you use plain heavy cream, instead. Some people think that Herbes de Provence is some special mixture of herbs that has been used in France for hundreds and hundreds of years. Not so; it showed up in the 1970s, and is just a mix of herbs that grow well in Provence. The mixture varies depending on who makes it. We even have our own recipe.
Procedure in detail:
Make dressing. In a small bowl, simply mix together the crème fraîche, herbs, and salt. Cover and place in the refrigerator to meld while you work.
Cube and drain watermelon. If you have a melon baller, feel free to use it. Otherwise, use a chef’s knife to cut the watermelon into nice bite-sized cubes. To us, that’s a cube 1/2- to 3/4-inch on a side. As you work, place the cubes in a colander in the sink to drain.
Drain strawberries. As you hull the strawberries, cut any that are very large into bite-sized pieces and place in the colander along with the strawberries. After you’ve cut all the fruit, place the colander in another bowl to catch the drippings, and pop it into the refrigerator to keep everything well-chilled. Let everything drain for about 30 minutes.
Serve. Divide the fruit among bowls, drizzle some of the dressing over the top, and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.
While we liked the herbs on the salad, and the mixture of the watermelon and strawberries, we were underwhelmed by the addition of the crème fraîche. It didn’t really add anything to the mix, except to give everything a pale white color. In retrospect, we could see adding the dairy if you also added something hot and spicy, such as red pepper — it would soothe the burn — but, here, it did nothing. If we were to make something like this again, we’d probably keep the herbs and salt, but perhaps just sprinkle them over the fruit and add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. As is, three stars.