Mint watermelon, cherry and black rice, wakame with shallot crisp: Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooling summer salads | Food

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The link between eating great wedges of sweet watermelon and summer is, for me, a strong one. As a kid, I used to eat it by the sea before jumping in the water to clean the juices off my chin and chest. I’m not sure whether I’ll get to repeat the seaside trick this year, but I’ll definitely still be eating great wedges of watermelon, and delighting in trying to catch the juices of this most summery of fruits.

Roast cherry and black rice salad (pictured top)

Cherries are wonderful at this time of year, and roasting them is a great way to bring out their sweet, spicy and nutty notes that work so beautifully with black rice. It is worth investing in a bottle of white balsamic vinegar for this – it goes beautifully with any roast summer fruit – though sherry or moscatel vinegar would work just as well, if need be. And if you like, swap the black rice for black barley, if you can find it, and cook it according to the packet instructions.

Prep 30 min
Soak 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 4 as a side

100g black rice
Salt and black pepper
500g fresh cherries
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
(or sherry or moscatel vinegar)
40g parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus 1 handful extra leaves to serve
3⅓ tbsp (5g) mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a handful extra to serve
1 tbsp lemon juice
20g shelled walnuts
, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
40g pecorino, thinly shaved

For the dressing
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp olive oil
⅛ tsp ground allspice

⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Put the rice in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook on a medium heat for 35 minutes. Add a quarter-teaspoon of salt, cook for five minutes more, until the rice is cooked but still has a slight bite, then drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, wash and pit the cherries, then cut them in half lengthways. Put the halved cherries in a large baking dish (about 34cm x 20cm) with the oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, immediately drizzle with the vinegar, stir gently, taking care not to break up the cherries, and set aside to cool.

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor, add 50g of the cooled, roast cherries and a good pinch each of salt and pepper, then blitz smooth.

Put half the remaining roast cherries and half their cooking juices in the bowl with the rice, add the parsley, mint and half the dressing, and toss gently to combine. Spoon this on to a large platter and top with the remaining cherries and cooking juices. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and the lemon juice, then scatter over the walnuts, half the pecorino and the picked leaves, and serve with the extra pecorino alongside.

Watermelon with pomegranate, pumpkin seeds and mint sugar

Yotam Ottolenghi’s watermelon with pomegranate, pumpkin seeds and mint sugar.

The red watermelon looks, and tastes, great here, but any other green- or orange-fleshed ripe melon will also work really well. Serve as part of a summer spread or at the end of a meal as dessert.

Prep 15 min
Assemble 10 min
Serves 6

2kg fridge-cold watermelon (ie, ½ large watermelon)
50g pecorino (or parmesan), shaved with a vegetable peeler
1½ tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp olive oil, for drizzling

For the dressing
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1½ tbsp lime juice
Flaked sea salt

For the mint sugar
25g mint, leaves picked to get 15g (or about 10 tbsp), then finely chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp aleppo chilli
(or chilli flakes)

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut off and discard the watermelon skin and white pith: you should end up with about 1½kg flesh. Cut the watermelon into 1½cm-wide wedges, then put on a large platter and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Mix all the dressing ingredients with an eighth of a teaspoon of flaked sea salt, and set aside.

Put all the ingredients for the mint sugar in a small bowl with an eighth of a teaspoon of flaked salt, then rub with your fingertips until everything has melded together.

To assemble, drizzle the dressing over the watermelon, then sprinkle over the pecorino shavings, pumpkin seeds and olive oil. Scatter the mint sugar on top and serve.

Wakame and baby cucumber with shallot and coriander seed crisp

Yotam Ottolenghi’s wakame and baby cucumber with shallot and coriander seed crisp.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s wakame and baby cucumber with shallot and coriander seed crisp.

Substitute the wakame for any other seaweed that you like or have to hand. And keep the shallot and coriander crisp in mind for other dishes: it works really well on all sorts of noodle and rice dishes.

Prep 20 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4

For the shallot and coriander seed crisp
75ml olive oil
2 shallots (100g), peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
5g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Salt
¾ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp coriander seeds
, lightly crushed
30g dried wakame, soaked in cold water
5 baby cucumbers ( 200g), or 1 regular cucumber, seeds scooped out and flesh cut into ½cm-wide slices

For the dressing
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
1½ tsp maple syrup
2 tbsp lime juice

To serve
1 tsp sesame oil
10g picked coriander leaves

Substitute the wakame for any other seaweed that you like or have to hand. And keep the shallot and coriander crisp in mind for other dishes: it works really well on all sorts of noodle and rice dishes.

Put the oil in a small saute pan on a medium heat and, once it’s hot, add the shallots, garlic, ginger and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until everything is lightly golden and crisp, then take off the heat, add the sugar, chilli flakes and coriander seeds, mix well and leave to cool.

Drain the soaked wakame in a colander, squeeze out as much water as possible, then put in a large bowl. Put the cucumber slices in the same colander, set it over a bowl, add an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, toss to coat and leave to steep for at least five minutes.

Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then pour over the drained seaweed. Add the cucumberto the bowl, toss to coat, then transfer to a lipped platter or large plate. Drizzle the final teaspoon of sesame oil on the top, sprinkle over the coriander leaves and half the shallot and coriander crisp, then serve with the rest of the crisp on the side.

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