There’s something about watermelon balls that, I’m convinced, makes the melon taste more delicious, and coupled with the sweet and slightly tart tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and olives, you get a delicious sweet, salty, acidic and juicy combination that is so very refreshing for summer.
This salad appeared on the menu at Berta one summer and quickly became a firm favourite spawning many variations – I’m sure its popularity was in part due to the watermelon being prepared with a melon baller.
- 250 g (1 punnet) cherry grape tomatoes (see Note)
- 1 small pinch of caster sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 50 g pitted Kalamata olives
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- squeeze of lemon
- 250 g seedless watermelon balls, prepared with a 1.5 cm parisian scoop
- ½ punnet baby basil, cut with scissors
- river salt and freshly ground 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.
Marinating time 1 hour
Cut the tomatoes in half, place in a mixing bowl, and add a pinch of sugar and river salt and the balsamic. Give it a good yet gentle stir and let them sit for 1 hour.
Finely chop the olives until they almost become a paste and place in a small bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice and a small amount of black pepper. Give it a little whisk with a fork.
Add the melon balls to the bowl with the tomato, combine well and have a little taste. It may need an extra splash of oil or some more seasoning but do keep in mind that the black olive will give it some extra saltiness.
Spoon this mix into a shallow serving bowl and drizzle the tomato mixture over the top. Season with an extra turn of black pepper and delicately scatter the baby basil over the salad.
• Any type of cherry or small tomato you can get your hands on will work, just be sure to go for the ripest. Basil can be substituted with baby basil, just make sure you roughly tear the larger leaves by hand and add to the salad when you are combining the melon and tomato. Small basil leaves and tomatoes do work better though as part of the beauty of this salad is its delicate nature.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd.