Unlike my husband, who sees eating outside as a ruthless and unrelenting defense strategy to protect his meal from the nearest bug, I like the idea of an evening meal outside. The sun just getting ready to dip behind the horizon, the grill fired up, the air smelling a bit smoky, the reins on the kids a bit slack.
The thing is, when it comes to picnic/barbecue food – my love of the side dishes is often few and far between. I’m not interested in the gloopy, underseasoned potato salad, or anemic-looking sausage rolls. Taking the food outside doesn’t mean we have to tone down the flavours in order to do so. It also doesn’t mean we have to spend a zillion sweaty hours in the kitchen building them into the food either. Seasonal summer food is packed full of sun-ripened flavours, so let’s use them!
Mexican and Thai cuisine are two of my very favourites, especially in the summertime. Rather than shying away from flavour in the heat of summer, they double down on its intensity. More spice! More citrus! More depth!
That is what this barbecue-ready watermelon salad does: it makes your mouth shout MORE! Juicy and refreshing. Sweet, sour and slightly spicy. This is the dish your next picnic or barbecue deserves. And it only takes about 10 minutes to make. So put down the tub of mayo and volunteer to bring the fruit salad. This one is actually worth the effort.
*this recipe is easily doubled, quantities are just what I used for my family
Sweet & Spicy Watermelon & Cucumber Salad
1/2 small watermelon
1/2 English cucumber
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Tajin classico (you can buy it here)
juice of 1 lime
a handful of mint leaves, chiffonaded for garnish
handful of coriander leaves, roughly torn for garnish
De-rind the watermelon and dice into bite-sized chunks. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon, then slice into thin half-moon-shaped pieces. Add fruit to an appropriate-sized bowl.
Next, make your spice rub by combining the brown sugar with equal parts Tajin and mix together with a spoon or your fingers to remove any clumps of sugar.
Dust your fruit with 2 teaspoons of the spice rub, followed by half of the lime juice and stir to combine. Tip into your serving bowl.
Garnish with herbs and a further dusting of spice rub and the remaining lime juice. Feel free to serve with the spice rub and additional halves of limes on the side so guests can add more as they desire.
*Additionally, this fruit salad and its juices can be added to soda water for a delicious lightly-flavoured mocktail.