I can remember the sheer excitement of the days when my childhood best friend would ring the doorbell. I’d drop everything and sprint to the front door, flinging it open so hard I could barely hang on.
Liesl’s brown eyes, my blue eyes would meet, both as big as saucers, and the screech of, “Let’s play!” coming simultaneously from our mouths. Some days it was barbies, some days hotel, library, or restaurant. Or we’d race to the park on our bikes and swing as high as the sky. We never really had a plan, just a spur of the moment kind of decision.
30 years later, things have changed, yet they’re still the same. My best friend is now named Sherrie, and we have to board a plane to ring each other’s doorbell. But the same excitement exudes when one of us picks the other up from the airport, something I honestly never thought I’d experience through an adult friendship.
Once we get settled in, “Let’s cook and shoot something!” is the same as the “Let’s play!” of my younger years. This time, to the tune of this Yellow Watermelon Salad with Pickled Cucumber Ginger Relish.
After an exchange of hugs and a pho lunch in St. Louis last week, Sherrie mentioned she had just gotten a tripod and overhead arm. Perfect reason to make something and experiment, right? We didn’t have a lot of time (as I had an appointment that afternoon) nor many ingredients on hand, but that didn’t stop us.
She had picked up a gorgeous melon at the market, and when we sliced through it to reveal the canary yellow flesh, there was no question it would be the star. Tasting the juicy wedges, we loved its honey sweet yet earthy flavor…. even a hint of summer squash, different from the sugar sweet taste of red watermelons, in the best way.
Then the brainstorming started…. and ended in about 2 minutes. She had one lonely cucumber from her garden, a few green onions and parsley in the refrigerator, and a knob of ginger on her counter. The lightbulbs flickered, and a cucumber relish came to us as the answer.
Dice, dice, chop, chop, stir, stir. An all green, savory relish that was a match made in heaven to the yellow watermelon triangles. With contrasting textures and flavors, we couldn’t photograph it fast enough, knowing that a juicy and refreshing snack was on the other side of a little work.
The beauty of this salad is that the longer the relish sits, the better is. So make that piece a day ahead, then slice and go. And since watermelons are so big, my suggestion is to make it this way with the first half, then with Sherrie’s Herby Olive Oil Relish the second. Two slightly different variations, both totally delicious.
And seek out that yellow watermelon. It’s well worth it. Just like seeking out a good friend.