An eye-catching watermelon salad with sherry vinegar, herbs, tomatoes and feta. Summery and delicious, this is a beautiful way to present fresh produce
By Michelle M. Winner
This composed grilled watermelon salad looks deceptively simple but explodes with flavor.
It happened while Michael Wurster was studying his pre-law courses. As soon as he realized his life would not paly out in a courtroom but a kitchen, he enrolled at the famed Culinary Institute of America, where he received a Degree of Culinary Arts.
Did he make the right choice? Well let’s toss out some of the famed kitchens and chefs he has worked with :Chefs Alain Ducasse at Alain Ducasse NY, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, Sottah Kuhn at Le Cirque 2000 and David Feau at Lutece. Not yet convinced? Well how about this ? During Wurster’s impressive career he was appointed Chef de Cuisine of Lutece at age 26, was named “Chef to Watch” by John Mariani and received critical acclaim in Food Arts and The New York Times. In sddition, as Executive Chef at ICON at W New York – The Court, Wurster contributed to the creation of brand menus for W Hotels Worldwide and was chosen among New York City’s most elite culinary talents to head the revival of Tavern on the Green.
So what happens next when this highly creative, detail-oriented chef with a passion for artistic culinary expression is looking for a challenge? Yup, Gordon Ramsay snapped him up for Gordon Ramsay at The London, where Wurster brings sophistication and artful innovation to seasonal, refined French cuisine. Chef Wurster also oversees the cuisine for The Chef’s Table, in addition to the in-room dining and private event spaces throughout The London NYC.
Here is his recipe for a delightful grilled watermelon salad that is served at MAZE the bistro type restaurant at The London, the perfect spot for pre-theatre cocktails and a light dinner.
- Ingredients for 16 portions
- Watermelon, red seedless - 1 whole
- English Cucumbers, peeled cut in 1” rounds - 5 each
- Heirloom Tomatoes, ends removed and quartered - 8 each
- Feta Cheese, ½ inch cubes - 32 each
- Black Olives - 2 Cups
- Shallots, unpeeled - 10 each
- Sherry Vinegar - ¼ Cup
- Olive Oil - ¾ Cup
- Thyme, chopped fine - 1 bunch
- Mixed Micro Greens - 1 shell
- For the Watermelon: Peel the Watermelon and then square off to make a rectangle.
- Cut lengthwise into 1inch thick blocks.
- From the 1inch blocks cut rectangles measuring 1 inch X 3 inches long.
- Drizzle the watermelon with olive oil and then season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Grill cross hatch marks onto both sides of the watermelon and then chill and hold for finishing.
- For the Cucumbers: Peel the cucumbers and then trim off the ends.
- Cut the cucumber into 1 inch rounds and then with either a small ring or knife cut out the seeded center leaving the cucumber rounds intact.
- For the Heirloom Tomatoes: Cut the ends off of the tomatoes at the stem end to make a flat surface.
- Next cut the Tomatoes in 4 even quarters and reserve for finishing.
- For the Olives: Drain the olives and place on a plate lined with a c-fold towel and then microwave on 50% power for 10 minutes, take out and turn the olives and then repeat for another 10 minutes at 50% power.
- Do one more time to ensure that the olives are completely dried out. When the olives have cooled, transfer to the Robot Coup and course grind to a powder, hold for assembly.
- For the Shallot Vinaigrette: Toss the shallots in a bowl with a little oil, salt and pepper to coat.
- On a sheet pan lined with foil, lay the shallots out and then transfer to a hot oven to roast until very tender and falling apart.
- Put the hot shallots into a food mill and process the shallots through the food mill leaving the skins behind into a bowl.
- Add the vinegar to the shallots and with a hand blender emulsify the oil into
- the shallots and vinegar.
- To Finish: Place 2 planks of the watermelon on the plate, 2 pieces of the tomatoes, 3 rounds of cucumber and 5 cubes of Feta Cheese.
- Place the Micro Greens in the holes of the cucumber and drizzle all of the garniture with the Shallot Vinaigrette.
- Top the cucumbers with the olive oil and sprinkle some Maldon Salt on the watermelon and tomatoes.
Michelle was born with a fork in her hand. As a culinary travel writer and confirmed foodophile she delights in the world-wide discovery of new flavor profiles, spices, salts and herbs. Based in one of the world's foodie meccas; Portland, Oregon, not far from "Pinot Noir Heaven" Michelle shares culinary travel and chef's recipes. Her photography has appeared in Saveur Magazine and she has contributed culinary travel articles to Forbes online, WSJ online, Business Insider, Condé Nast Digital Media, Islands magazine and many others. A confirmed globetrotter, she still keeps her bags packed and fork in hand (well . . . except through airport security.)