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French cooking might be all the rage with the popularity of the movie 'Julie and Julia', but down home southern cooking has always been in the spotlight.  Break open a red ripe watermelon and try Chef Linda's cool recipe.

---Anne K Moore August 28, 2009---

Watermelon & Shrimp? OH YEA!

Chef Linda Weiss, author of Memories From Home, Cooking with Family & Friends

Photographs by Robert Shober

Watermelon is one of those foods that bring back good memories for most of us. As for me, it's a reminder of my childhood summer Sunday's on the back porch of my grandparents' Victorian farmhouse in Alabama.  My sister and I perched ourselves on the high steps, just waiting for a piece of fresh melon our father had picked out of the field next to the house. He would use my grandmother's old butcher knife and cut half way through the melon. Then, he pulled the melon apart with a crack and a rip. For some strange reason when that bright red watermelon ripped apart, it was sweeter and juicier than when it was cut all the way through. 

Back then we didn't have a thought of making a salad with watermelon, but here we are with a beautifully colored, wonderfully textured melon that pairs well with perfectly seasoned shrimp, salty feta, citrusy lime zest and juice, fresh mint and peppery arugula to make the most delicious and beautiful salad that can grace a summer table.

It's great for a summer luncheon, or as part of a brunch paired with the spinach frittata and caramelized figs with yogurt, honey and lemon zest that we have coming up in next week's article. So, if your schedule doesn't allow you to make the watermelon salad this week, have a gathering and enjoy it with the other dishes for a brunch next week.

This recipe is one that I've used in my cooking classes for several years now. It's always loved at every class.

Watermelon Salad with Shrimp, Feta, & Mint

1 4 oz. package baby arugula or about 4-5 cups of baby arugula from the garden

1 lb large wild harvested, peeled and deveined shrimp

1-teaspoon red pepper flakes

Zest of 2 large limes

1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

3/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds of watermelon cut into 1 inch cubes (about 5 cups).

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves (chiffonade)

1 cup crumbled feta cheese or if using a block of feta, cut into small cubes

Place shrimp, olive oil, red pepper flakes, Greek seasoning, lime zest, and garlic, into a bowl and mix well to coat the shrimp. Cook right away. Cooking methods: (1) [Recommended] Place shrimp on skewers (soak skewers in water prior to putting shrimp on them. This keeps the skewers from burning) and place the shrimp skewers on a hot grill. Cook until shrimp are done. Remove from heat and place on salad (2) Pour oil into a skillet and heat until hot but not smoking. Cook shrimp in one layer, turning to cook on each side. Remove from heat and set aside, cook next batch of shrimp until done. Remove from heat and place on salad.

To assemble salad:  Place the baby arugula on a medium sized platter. Spoon watermelon cubes on top of the arugula. Pour the lime juice evenly over the melon. Add the shrimp to the top of the watermelon, and then add the feta cheese to the top of the shrimp. Sprinkle the thinly sliced mint over the feta. Serves 4-6.

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