It’s almost August but with all the rain and the slowly shortening days I started to sense that autumn is soon coming. Trying to get the best of what’s left from summer seems to be the only way to expand the time and prevent myself for getting the summer blues. Stuffing my fridge with fresh, seasonal fruits, herbs and veggies is also part of the process.
I love all the fresh wild berries, the peaches and apricots, aubergines, bell peppers, tomatoes and juicy watermelons. The floral dress you wear when going to the market, the sun light filtered by the tree leaves, the farmers’ smiles, the vibrant colors and fragrances and oh, that crack of a ripe watermelon at first cut – all these simple things create peaceful memories, make you live the moment, stay present and expand the time.
This watermelon salad came out of my endless urge of exploring different flavor combinations. I eat a lot of these fruits during summer and wanted to go beyond of pairing them with feta cheese and mint. I made one of my usual protein-rich, satiating salads using tofu, but tried a new combo which turned out to be great!
The umami of the soy sauce is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of watermelon and the mint and green onion flavors, while the different textures: cucumber and pistachio crunch, avocado creaminess, rubbery tofu and the watermelon crispiness come as a tasty surprise.
In terms of nutrients, watermelon isn’t all as poor as you might consider it. I used to eat it as a way to stay hydrated and stimulate the kidney cleanse, as it contains high water amounts but when I discovered its nutritional profile I started to give watermelon the same importance as I do to berries.
Watermelons contain high concentrations of lycopene, the cancer-fighting antioxidant for which tomatoes are considered the champion, but the one in watermelons is present in a more available for absorption form than in tomatoes.
The potassium levels regulates the cell alkalinity, while its cittruline, cucurbitacin, vitamin C and beta-carotene reduce the inflammation, prevent the oxidation and contribute to preserving the cardiovascular system health.
Combining watermelon with a healthy fat source, such as avocado and pistachio, increases the nutrient absorption, especially favorising the beta-carotene. As for the watermelon black seeds, don’t throw them away! They are as nutrient-rich as the watermelon flesh and add more crunch to your salad.
- For the salad
- ¼ medium peeled watermelon (about 2 cups flesh) and cut into cubes (loved this idea from The Kitchn)
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup red cabbage, grated
- 1 avocado, peeled and cut into slices
- 1 large cucumber, diced
- 2 green onions, diced
- 5-6 fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup pistachio, lightly toasted, crushed
- ½ cup extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- For the dressing
- 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- ¼ cup water
- Add the dressing ingredients into the blender and pulse to obtain a creamy mixture.
- Transfer into a jar and refrigerate.
- Heat the coconut oil into a non-stick skillet, and add the tofu cubes.
- Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until golden on each side.
- Transfer into a bowl and set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the spinach, avocado, cabbage, cucumber and green onions.
- Top with the watermelon and tofu cubes, drizzle the sauce, garnish with fresh mint leaves and crushed pistachio and serve!