Ricotta Salata w/Watermelon & Mint
It is summer. It has been summer here in Colorado since mid-April. Actually, it seems that most places in America hold this to be at least mostly true (80 degree days in march anyone?). Potential catastrophic weather patterns aside, this heat brings out my longing for cliche, classic Americana, backyard barbecue food. The kind that dyes my fingers with artificial colors, is slathered in pickle relish and eaten off of floppy paper plates that at some point will drop a huge glob of baked beans onto my sandaled feet. Naturally at my behest The Guy & I have been unabashedly consuming burgers and brats (okay, so turkey burgers & andouille sausage on buns. because i must be fancy) this week.
In the spirit of our "fancy" cook-out nosh I decided to whip up a cool little salad to take the edge off of the heat. I managed through some combination of luck and wizardry to pick a watermelon that was both sweet and crunchy (i.e. perfect). The cheese to pair it with was more of a no-brainer.
The Ricotta Salata I used in this dish is really not the milky soft cows milk cheese that you buy by the tub at the grocery store. This one is sheep's milk, crumbles readily (though it can be sliced with a good kitchen knife) and is much, much drier in texture. It's flavor is milky, lightly animal, and brine-y. Bringing to mind more of a whiff of seaside spray than salt-lick.
I tossed the sweet cubed melon and Ricotta Salata together with a few sprigs of freshly plucked mint. The sugary melon made the perfect salty/sweet pairing with the cheese. While the mint lent a high singing chill cutting through any extreme cloying or briney-ness in the salad.
The overall result was the culinary equivalent of standing under a cool waterfall on a scorching summer afternoon. The refreshment (and the going back for more) was never ending.