The earliest memory I have of watermelon is spitting the seeds with my cousin at my third birthday party. It’s always been a part of summer in the South for me—and probably quite a few people not from the South would say that as well. But since I’m from the South and my birthday is in June, I have this ridiculous feeling idea I have a special claim to them.
However, I have a confession to make: I’m ambivalent about watermelon. Melons have never been my favorite: I’ve always hated the taste of cantaloupe and have only recently come to sort of enjoy honeydew. Watermelon is the least offensive of the melons to me, but I honestly don’t care whether I eat it or not. I enjoy its visual presence at a picnic, and I associate it with the Fourth of July and summer in general, but I may or may not take a piece, depending on what mood I’m in.
And then there’s the matter of seeds. If you’re going to do anything but take a big bite of watermelon and spit the seeds out, they’re a pain. When you’re a kid, spitting seeds is cute, but as an adult it’s a little…undignified. And I’m already undignified enough. I’m the kind of person who when I’m trying to be quiet end up doing something extra loud by accident, like banging the doorknob with the laundry basket while my husband is taking a nap even when I’m specifically trying to avoid it, or somehow knocking my makeup into the bathroom sink.
So the invention of seedless watermelon, while perhaps evil in the realm of food modification, is super wonderful if you are making this watermelon salad, which is one of the incarnations of watermelon I’ve discovered that I’m not ambivalent about. It’s soooo good. It has feta cheese in it. It has balsamic vinegar. It has mint. All things I’m crazy wild about. And it has chickpeas for protein, yada yada—but seriously, they really nicely round things out.
Because the thing is, I really want to love watermelon. First of all, melons of all kinds are super hydrating and anti-bloating, all great things when you’re wearing a bathing suit. But more than that, I feel like it’s a character flaw that I don’t adore watermelon the way I adore peaches. I feel like it’s somehow un-American or un-Southern—or anti-summer, which I am definitely, definitely not.
Hmm, I wonder how peaches would taste in this salad. I’m gonna have to try that…
The gorgeous photo for this recipe was taken by none other than my partner in crime since high school, a woman also named Emily but known by many other names as well, whom I’m visiting this week. Expect to see more of her gorgeous photos visiting my blog in the next weeks!
Watermelon Chickpea Salad
- 4 cups seedless watermelon
- 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
- 3 Tbsp chopped basil
- 1 can chickpeas
- 4 oz. feta cheese
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- freshly ground cracked pepper
- Cube watermelon and chop herbs. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Crumble feta and combine all ingredients.