This is a quick and easy dish that would be an ideal side for a barbeque lunch. It’s oily and juicy, perfect messy eating. As you char the watermelon, its flavour mellows and deepens but it still remains crunchy enough to give textural contrast to the soft oozy mozzarella.
- 180 g rindless watermelon, cut into a level 2 cm-high block
- olive oil, for grilling
- ⅓ cup (4 tbsp) red wine vinegar
- 2 balls buffalo mozzarella (110 g each), at room temperature
- ½ cup Thai basil leaves
- robust extra virgin oil, for drizzling
- river salt and black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat a barbecue to high.
Take your watermelon slice, oil and season it thoroughly, then place it on the grill of the barbecue. Give it about 3 minutes, enough time so it starts to char and blacken, then turn over and repeat on the other side.
Once cooked, remove the watermelon from the heat and cut into rough 3 cm chunks. Place these pieces into a mixing bowl, pour over the vinegar and give it a toss to mix. Set aside.
Take your balls of mozzarella and, over a large shallow serving bowl, tear each into about 4 pieces, laying the pieces in the bowl as you do so. This ensures that any lovely lactic juices that ooze out will be saved. Season the cheese thoroughly.
Take the basil and place half into the bowl with the watermelon. Use a large serving spoon to give it a quick mix before spooning the watermelon and all the reserved juices over the top of the mozzarella.
Give your salad an extra large drizzle of olive oil - you want it to be swimming in the juices. Sprinkle over the remaining basil.
Serve with a fresh baguette for a starter or as a side dish for your barbecue.
• If you are feeling fancy and are happy to look to the future, save the skin from your watermelon rind and pickle it. Slices of this would be a lovey addition to this dish.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by O Tama Carey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.
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