spicy watermelon and avocado salad

This salad!

Bright, juicy chunks of watermelon, crispy croutons, creamy avocado, all very nice.  But sprinkled with a spicy seed mixture and almost swimming in a bold, sour, minty dressing, this salad is an exclamation mark on your tongue.

If you’ve had watermelon in a salad before, chances are it was with feta and red onion.  It’s a delicious, happy, familiar combination.  This salad, spicy and tangy and herby, is nothing like that one, and makes me want to explore more savory possibilities with watermelon. (This looks like a good place to start.)

It’s a few more ingredients and steps that I usually put into a salad, but with the chickpeas and avocado it’s substantial enough to be considered a very quick meal instead of high maintenance salad.

I would suggest that you double, triple the seed mixture.  It’s sort of a spicy, less nutty version of dukkah, a handy thing to have around for adding a whack of flavour to just about whatever it is you’re eating.  A hot, dry, middle eastern ketchup, if you will.

Spicy Watermelon Avocado Salad with Chickpea Croutons
from ESSEN&TRINKEN July/2013

1 small can of chickpeas (400 g)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons sumac
1-3 teaspoons Pul biber or other chilli (adjust heat to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 stems of fresh peppermint, finely chopped
about 1 kg watermelon
2 mini romaine lettuces
2 avocados
4 tablespoons cooking oil

Rinse the chickpeas and pat down with a clean dishcloth until very dry.

Roast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become slightly brown and aromatic.  Grind sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle with thyme, sumac, pul biber and salt.

Whisk together lemon juice and zest, 4 tablespoons cold water, then whisk in the olive oil and mint.

Cut the watermelon into small triangles and the avocado into slices, both about 5cm thick.  Wash and dry the romaine lettuce, then tear into bit sized pieces.  Place lettue, watermelon and avocado in a large bowl.

Heat the cooking oil in a small pan, then add the chickpeas and roast on medium heat for about 8 minutes, until they get slighty cripsy and dark.  Salt the chickpeas to taste.

Sprinkle dressing and seed mixture over the salad to taste, then toss with the chickpeas.