Originally from my Mum, this salad looks and tastes delicious - the perfect finish to a summer menu. I think the original version also had a vanilla sugar syrup over it, but it is still yum without it. There are quite a few variations of this salad out there - some with onion, some with olives, and some with feta instead of ricotta. If you love that fresh hit of watermelon, mint and blueberry, and the creaminess of ricotta, then this salad is for you! Let’s take a look at the ingredients!
What’s so good about watermelon?
We all love a slice of watermelon, but what’s so good about it? This big and juicy fruit is first and foremost full of WATER. Our bodies thrive off of water (of course), so watermelon is a great-tasting hydration hit that quenches your thirst. It’s even better refrigerated - crispy and fresh.
Watermelon also has plenty of nutrients and other beneficial compounds. It’s full of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and magnesium. Not only that, but it also has a relatively low amount of calories! Overall, these nutrients and compounds (amongst others), provide a healthy dose of antioxidants, and may help reduce inflammation, may aid skin health and may improve digestion.
Ricotta vs Feta - who wins?
The great part of this recipe is you can change a few flavours around to get a completely different type of salad. For example, you can substitute the ricotta with either feta or goats cheese. The feta specifically makes for a saltier and more savoury experience, especially if you add some kalamata olives in the mix (yum!).
Having said that, I do feel Ricotta is the better choice. The main reason ricotta works better is that it’s great to mix all the lemon juice, zest and honey with. Because it's so soft, it really takes in all ingredients for a flavourful and creamy mix! My suggestion would be to have the more savoury version with a meal (feta, onion, olives), and this sweeter version after a meal (ricotta, blueberries).
What’s the deal with mint?
Mint has long been a staple in the herb world, and sneaks into this dish with a flavourful and fresh hit.
The name mint comes from the Latin word menthe and Greek word minthe. In Greek mythology it is said that Persephone, jealous of the love her husband Pluto had for the beautiful nymph Minthe turned her into a low growing mint. Pluto unable to undo the spell gave mint its wonderful smell, so that when walked upon she would not be forgotten.
Popping a few mint leaves into drinks and meals adds a fragrance and flavour that stimulates the senses and lifts your mood. A sprig of mint happily swimming in an icy glass of your favourite beverage makes you really feel like you are on holiday.
Mint is used as a flavouring for everything from toothpaste and chewing gums to alcoholic beverages and herbal teas. Mint leaves are known for their ability to calm a nervous stomach, gently stimulating and soothing digestion.
The Power of the Lemon
With lots of lemon juice, zest and rind included in this recipe, I thought I’d outline some of the powerful aspects of the humble Lemon. Lemons contain a large amount of fibre, vitamin C, essential oils and other healthy compounds. Eating lemons may lower your risk of kidney stones and heart disease, and also can aid in lowering blood sugar levels and help digestion. Overall this little yellow fruit provides a tangy, healthy hit.
How to make Watermelon, Mint & Ricotta Salad
Step 1: Mix 100g of ricotta, 2tsp of lemon rind, and 1tbsp of lemon juice and 1tsp honey together in a bowl until combined.
Step 2: Remove the rind, cut 1kg of watermelon into triangles and arrange them on a plate with the 125g of blueberries.
Step 3: Spoon over the ricotta mix ensuring to get some on each piece of watermelon.
Step 4: Sprinkle with 2tbsp of roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts, lemon zest and ¼ cup of mint.
Step 5: Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Watermelon, Mint & Ricotta Salad
1 kg of watermelon
125g of blueberries
100g of ricotta
2 tsp of grated lemon rind
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp of roasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup of mint
Lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon to serve
Mix the ricotta, lemon rind, lemon juice and honey together in a bowl until combined.
Remove the rind, cut the watermelon into triangles and arrange them on a plate with the blueberries.
Spoon over the ricotta mix ensuring to get some on each piece of watermelon.
Sprinkle with roughly chopped hazelnuts, lemon zest and mint.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.