Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette combines summer’s produce in a light and refreshing salad. 

Watermelon, Feta and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Let’s talk about the fact that I don’t have a single picture from this weekend that doesn’t include a naked baby splashing in a water table on the back deck (ahem, the best.) The moments I did want to share with you guys, my epic fajitas from Monterrey for lunch on Saturday followed by deck sailing at my parent’s house all afternoon, escaped the lens of my iPhone. Such is life with a toddler (toddler!) Scarfing fajitas with one hand while feeding him turkey pinwheels with the other. Cracking open a cold Omission one second then enjoying post-nap snuggles the next.

Ain’t nobody got time for recreational photography these days, apparently!

Fortunately I DO have pictures of the seriously simple and summery salad I’m sharing today. Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette is rocking my world right now. Let’s forget about the rockin’ taste for a second – just look at these colors. I want to wear them!

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

This has been the summer of watermelon and basil for my family. Lincoln would eat a quarter watermelon at each meal if we let him and my basil factory out back has forced me to incorporate the herb into several meals each week. Not that I’m complaining or anything. Basil and I are totally like this. What have you been eating like crazy this summer? 

Anyway, my recent prayers for a summer heat wave were finally answered last week (I just wanted one before fall, ya’ know?) and the scorching hot temps lately have had me looking for refreshing meals that are nearly no heat required. This salad is it!

Sweet, fresh watermelon is combined with lettuce and basil for a super light base then pumped up with cubed feta cheese, chopped pistachios, and my favorite part, reduced balsamic vinaigrette. As in, reduced balsamic vinegar used IN the vinaigrette that’s drizzled on top. I know. I KNOW. It’s got a hint of garlic that’s going to drive you wild.

This salad is the perfect starter to any meal, or if it’s hot as blazes where you live too, a filling and refreshing entree that’s nearly no heat required.

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Start by making the Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette, which I am currently dying over as it includes reduced balsamic vinegar, one of my favorite foods on the planet. With it’s sweet-tart taste and syrupy texture, it’s the perfect base for this simple yet luscious vinaigrette.

All you do is boil 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until it’s the consistency of thin maple syrup, about 15-20 minutes or until you have between 3 and 4 Tablespoons of reduced vinegar.

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Let the reduced vinegar cool slightly then add to a mason jar with 1 clove minced garlic2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then shake to combine. Oh man I tell you what – the instant the warm vinegar hits the raw garlic it is lights out. Intoxicating! I stuck my nose into the jar to get the biggest whiff possible and ended up choking on warm vinegar fumes.

#worthit

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

The rest of the salad components are a cinch to prep. Cube a 6oz block of feta cheese, julienne 14-16 fresh basil leaves, roughly chop 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, then cube 2 cups fresh watermelon.

How To Cut a Watermelon | iowagirleats.com

Like I said, we’ve gone watermelon crazy this summer and though the growing season is nearly over, it’s never too late to learn how to pick out the perfect watermelon and cube it for a pretty presentation.

Search for a watermelon that’s heavy for it’s size and has a large white or pale yellow spot on the underside which indicates it’s been sitting and ripening to perfection in the sun.

How To Cut a Watermelon | iowagirleats.com

Wash then dry the watermelon, and then cut it in half. I find my serrated bread knife works even better than my big chef’s knife for the job!

How To Cut a Watermelon | iowagirleats.com

Cut each half in half, then slice each quarter like so.

How To Cut a Watermelon | iowagirleats.com

Switch to a smaller, paring knife then slice off the rind and then cube the watermelon. That’s it!

How To Cut a Watermelon | iowagirleats.com

To assemble the salad, divide 9-10oz lettuce (I used arugula) on plates then top with the watermelon, feta, pistachios, and basil. Give each plate a heavy drizzle of Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette, and then serve!

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic

Vinaigrette

Print this recipe!

Serves 4 as a side salad, 2 as an entree

Inspired by Pinch of Yum

Ingredients: 
9-10oz arugula, or other mixed green
2 cups 1″ watermelon cubes
6oz block feta, cubed
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
14-16 fresh basil leaves, julienned

For the Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan then turn heat down slightly and boil until consistency is like thin maple syrup, 15-20 minutes. You should have 3 – 4 Tablespoons reduced vinegar. Let vinegar cool slightly then pour into a mason jar, add garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then shake to combine and set aside.
  2. Divide lettuce among plates then top with watermelon, feta, pistachios, and basil, and then drizzle with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Like I said, this salad was perfectly refreshing and filling on a hot summer night, but if you need some extra protein, top the salads with grilled chicken or shrimp. I happen to think citrus-grilled shrimp would taste marvelous with the sweet watermelon. Either way – enjoy!

Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com


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