Chef Michael Gulotta’s Marinated Watermelon with Spicy Pickled Feta, Roasted Eggplant, and Mint
Serves 6 guests
- 3 Japanese eggplants, diced large
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
- 1 small seedless watermelon (or one pack of fresh cubed watermelon, seeded)
- Mint leaves, plus more for garnishing
- Pinch of turbinado (raw) sugar, to taste
- Spicy Pickled Feta (see recipe below)
- Pot d’Huile Olive Oil for drizzling
- Toss the diced eggplant with the vegetable oil, salt, and half of the Aleppo chili flake. Lay the eggplant out onto a baking sheet and place it in a 350ºF oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Place the sugar, mint, remaining Aleppo pepper flake, and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor and grind it together until the mint is pulverized. Toss the mint and sugar mixture with the watermelon and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
- To serve, gently fold the eggplant in with the marinated watermelon and its juices. Spoon the eggplant watermelon mixture into a deep platter and top with the pickled feta (be sure to get some of the fennel and cumin seed with it), fresh torn mint leaves, and a generous drizzle of Pot d’Huile Olive Oil.
For the Spicy Pickled Feta
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 pinch cumin seed
- 1 pinch fennel seed
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste, can substitute one fresh serrano, sliced into rings
- 2 cloves garlic, shaved
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- In a small non-reactive pot heat the vegetable oil, cumin seed, and fennel seed over medium heat.
- Once the spices begin to sizzle and pop in the oil, add in the vinegar, sugar, and Calabrian chili paste.
- Bring the pot to a simmer, then cut the heat and stir in the shaved onion and garlic.
- Allow the mixture to cool and then pour it over the crumbled feta. Refrigerate overnight before using.