Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

I often trot off to see a lovely aesthetician that has a wee little mini-spa set up in her basement. I was referred to her by a friend who had also been referred by a friend…who was referred by a friend.  It’s just that kind of place.  You’ll never find her on the internet or even in the yellow pages, and to be honest I was even somewhat surprised on my first visit when she handed me a business card.  The word of mouth, however, was advertisement enough.  She keeps an impeccably clean shop, charges ridiculously low prices, has 4 cats which apparently only speak Hebrew, does good work, and takes crazy last minute clients like me on almost no notice (“Hi!  It’s Tina!!  I was just wondering if you could fit me in for a wax….in about 20 minutes, I’m right around the corner….”).

The thing is, all that money she earns (which I’m sure Revenue Canada would be quite interested to know about) is frequently put to good work, and she vacations 3-4 times a year for up to a month at a time. I find myself charting my bikini waxes to coincide for when she gets back from Israel but before she goes to France.  Well, until I totally dropped the ball and missed that narrow window of opportunity between when I was ready for a wax and when she went on vacation.  

You can’t imagine my panic.  I’m due for a wax and my aesthetician is gone for a month.  I mean, A MONTH!!  I can’t wait a month for a wax.  In two more weeks you could set me up next to Chewbacca and he’d look clean shaven next to this hirsute femme.  Horrors, oh woe, oh dastardly bad timing on my part!  I tried to be reasonable.  I took a deep breath and dialed the number for my old (exorbitantly expensive) spa and booked myself in for the first time in almost 2 years.  That was mistake number one.  They always know.  They always take it personally.  If you’re going to go back for your first visit in years, you’d better come up with a mighty good story for why you went to jail in the first place.

My aesthetician’s name was Mallor.  No, not Mallory, just….Mallor.  She had the pallor of a Mallor.  She snapped on those rubber gloves like a surgeon and regarded me cooly.  

Mallor:  Strip from the waist down.

They usually leave the room to let you do this with a bit of dignity, but not Mallor.  Oh no, not Mallor.

Mallor:  You haven’t been here in quite some time.”

Me:  “Well…hehe…*gulp*…yes, that’s true.  It’s just that I, um, I moved.  Far away.  But, uh, well now I’m back and……

Mallor:  “You look different.  Put on weight?

Just like that.  Totally deadpan.  If I wasn’t half naked and frozen in a spread-eagle position on the bed I would have crawled underneath it and rocked back and forth until she left the room.

Me:  Um, yeah, I guess -

Mallor squinted down at my legs with what really looked like a malevolent sneer from my angle of fragile vulnerability.

Mallor:  Your thighs.  They’re chafed from rubbing together.”

(Oh Christ, is this over yet?)

Me:  Oh, uh – yeah.  I’ve started doing a little bit of jogging, because I’ve never been much of an athletic type but you see my partner runs and I agreed that -”

Mallor:  Keep jogging.  Maybe your thighs won’t rub together.”

Ten minutes later my bulging thighs and I slunk out of the room.  I grudgingly paid my $70 to the smiling lady at the desk who had the gall to ask, “So how did it GO?” and sped home as fast as my little car would carry me.  Oh, it went.  It went  FINE.  There’s nothing like the cruel and maleficent chiding of the woman who’s ripping wax off your special girl areas to make you feel so little, and yet so very big.

As a result of this latest chapter of indignity in the pitiable saga of humiliation which is my life, it looks like my dinner trends for the next little while are going to have a little bit less cheese and a little bit more goddamned fat free.

Watermelon & Chili Salad

Serves 6 as a side

  • 1/2 medium watermelon (6-7 cups) *
  • 2 serrano chili peppers **
  • 1.5 tsp lime zest
  • juice of 1.5 limes
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 green onions
  • handful mint (1/3 cup chopped)
  • small handful cilantro (1/4 cup chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

*Keep the watermelon chilled until you’re ready to cut it up.

**If you don’t have serrano chili peppers then jalapenos would be a fine substitute.  The heat in a chili pepper varies according to plant, and if you have very spicy jalapenos or serrano chilis then you may want to use slightly less.

 Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Cut the chili peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Finely chop the chili into a small mince.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Zest 1.5 tsp of lime zest into a small bowl.  Squeeze in the juice of one and a half nice plump limes and add the rice vinegar.

Add the chili and season the dressing with salt and pepper, remembering that you’re not just adding salt to a dressing, you’re seasoning 6-7 cups of watermelon as well.  It doesn’t hurt to have a bit of a generous spirit with the salt pig.  Whisk the dressing together to combine.  The dressing can be made up to a few days in advance and kept refrigerated to really let the peppers steep.  Not that I could ever wait that long, but the option is out there.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Slice away the green and white rind from the watermelon.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Cut the watermelon up into generous 1 inch cubes.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Discard the stems from the mint and give the leaves a good chop. Chop up the cilantro, stems and all. I love cilantro stems because they’re so flavorful and they just add a nice bit of watery crunch wherever they go. Finely slice both the white and green parts of the onions. Do not add the herbs to the salad until you’re ready to serve it, or else they’ll just go all wilty-like.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Pour the dressing over the watermelon cubes and throw on the herbs.  Give everything a good toss together with your hands which are far more gentle than the average mixing spoon. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

The watermelon salad was a light and refreshing side dish to the smoky heat of broiled tilapia in a ginger/garlic/lime/sriracha marinade under a mound of crispy sweet potato threads.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

But enough about the fish, let’s get back to the salad……

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Last summer the two main salads that Mike and I had on serious rotation were an orzo salad with roasted tomatoes, vegetables and black olives, and a salad of chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and baby bocconcini balls. This year, however, I have a feeling that fresher and lighter food will be making the rounds across our picnic table, and this sweet watermelon and spicy serrano salad is sure to be a frequent flyer.

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad

Watermelon & Serrano Chili Salad
  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com kristie

    OhmyGod! That condescending whore! You should ignore her. She’s just angry because her parents didn’t even love her enough to finish writing vowels on her birth certificate. Ugh. That makes me so mad. You’re a hottentot and you know it and if you’re jogging, you need to eat carbs to keep up your energy.

    Not that the salad doesn’t look gorgeous, because it does, but still…restraint is the only thing keeping me from using the C-word in regards to “mallor”

  • erica

    What kristie said.
    I hope you didn’t tip that biznatch.
    That reminds me, sadly, of the time that I got a massage on a cruise ship and was told that I have cellulite on my thighs. During a massage. On a Mexican cruise. How am I supposed to relax after I’m being told about the exact location and consistency of my cellulite? And how am I supposed to get into a bathing suit after I’ve been informed of this?

    Not my favorite vacation, I can tell you that.
    (I couldn’t even enjoy the midnight chocolate buffet!)

  • http://thekitchenette.wordpress.com The Kitchenette

    Love your recipe.

    Love the site.

    Hate that conniving assclown of an aesthetician.

  • Stephanie

    What an evil person. Just so you know, I have THREE types of anti-chafing stuff for running that I can’t live without. I also know several very skinny runners who also chafe, and their legs look like there is an upside-down U between them.

  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com kristie

    I’ve thought about this some more (mostly while I was at kickboxing, with my thighs totally rubbing together during certain moves), and I think this is what you should have said, “So, did you always want to be an aesthetician? I always thought it would be such a FUN job, but then my parents were all like ‘No daughter of mine is going to be pulling out peoples’ pubic hair for a living. You’ll go to COLLEGE Tina.’ It’s totally ridiculous, I mean, money isn’t everything, you know?”

    Just sayin’

  • http://ordinarygoddess.net Carol Elaine

    Salad looks amazing.

    I think I would’ve hightailed it out of there with the first sneer, saying, “Ya know, I don’t think I want a mean bitter person ripping hair off my tender thighs. I’d like to keep my skin.”

  • Kulsum

    She certainly was a mean ass.
    The good thing is I tried the salad for lunch today, great refreshing and light. I replaced lime with lemon and serrano with pickled jalapeno, thats the closest I could get.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Kulsum – we’re so glad that you enjoyed it!! As for the lemon and pickled jalapeno, well you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, right? I have started to despair that I will never be able to buy a fresh ancho chili or aleppo pepper, but in the mean time I thank god for canned goods :) Thank you again for trying (and commenting!) on the recipe!!!

  • Nanco

    Yum!
    Remember when we got pedicures before a wedding and the woman asked me if I wanted my mustached waxed next? I opted not to even get the planned manicure and went straight to Shoppers where the nice cosmetician told me I do not even need to bleach said mustache. Ha!

  • http://food.lizsteinberg.com Liz

    Wow, what a nice, creative way of preparing watermelon!

    And seriously, go back to the Israeli lady.

  • Marti

    Well, summer is the time to enjoy watermelon and all such pleasures but not because of neurotic aestheticians–definitely keep your Israeli lady and program your cellphone to remind you to make appointments.
    I was in the supermarket a few hours ago and kept wondering why the cashier was so rude, as in no greeting, no response to my apology for having lost my shopping bag (and me thinking why should I be apologizing for this? I am sorry but I keep apologizing..), a seriously pained expression as she unwrapped my bulk items to get at the bin numbers (by this point I was on an apology strike)…and then a nice big THANK YOU when I left, as in thanks for getting out of my sight?
    Cheez.
    Granted she may have had a death in the family, a marital breakup or children caught in compromising positions but whatever happened to civil behavior?
    Enough of a rant. Enjoy the fruit and the sun and eat whatever you want, good food is one of life’s great pleasures..

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com _ts-eatingclubvancouver

    Haha… we actually know several people with similar businesses in their homes: namely, someone who does facials (don’t really go much), and more importantly, an acupuncturist. Same thing: “Hi, can I come in today? in about 30 minutes?” =D

  • Tracy

    Tina,
    What is it with estheticians who think they can critique our physical attributes while we are in such vulnerable positions? I had a woman suggest, during a supposedly relaxing facial, that I had hair on my upper lip that she should wax off. So, I stupidly take her advice (eventhough this has never bothered me before) and decide to let her perform this tortuous waxing. So, much for a relaxing facial.

    Anyway, I applaud you for your bravery of being able to endure such a painful procedure in the “girly areas” as I am way too wimpy after experiencing just my upper lip.

    Enjoy your delicious food, whatever the fat content. You look great!

  • http://muskegharpy.blogspot.com/ Jacquie

    So I made this on Monday for a bunch of friends. I even managed to find all the ingredients in the local grocery store (in an extremely remote town with a population of 600). It was prepared in a gov’ment bunkhouse where the only knives were a serrated bread knife and a teeny paring knife. With all of those limitations, it was a resounding success.

    We had it over halibut tacos. Everyone who ate it loved it. It was so sweet, spicy and refreshing.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Jacquie, I am so delighted that you made this salad and enjoyed it!! It would certainly be a great pairing with halibut tacos, and now I’m a little bit depressed and jealous that I didn’t think of that first. Great idea, seriously. Also, I’m so impressed that you found everything you needed! Half the time when I go to the local stores I’m hit by things like, “Huh. You have….NO broccoli at all?” The global supply chain works in mysterious ways…

  • Julie

    I made this recipe for a cook-out this afternoon, and it was a huge hit. The flavor was amazing! However, I have a question. When you toss the watermelon in the dressing, how do you avoid squooshing the watermelon pieces? I used my hands, and I tried to be as gentle as possible, but I still felt like I was bruising the watermelon pieces. Alot of the juice was coming out of the watermelon pieces as I did that, like I was wringing them out. But I didn’t know how to be more gentle and yet still get the dressing to coat all the pieces, you know? I ended up with a lot of watermelon juice in the bottom of the bow. Once I finished tossing them in the dressing, the watermelon pieces looked….tired, sort of. They just looked much fresher and crisper before I mixed them in with the dressing. I know this is such a dumb question, but is there a trick to it?

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Julie – We’re so glad that you enjoyed this dish!! That’s just excellent. In terms of tossing the watermelon, you did exactly what I did, which is toss them gently by hand. Watermelon has an incredibly high water content, which is why you WILL see a lot of the liquid gather in the bottom of the bowl. Also, as soon as you coat the chunks with any kind of dressing, regardless of how light it is, the watermelon will lose just a bit of that firm crispness.

      You have a great question, but I guess the answer is that no, there are no fool proof tricks. The watermelon chunks are just going to look more like a dressed/marinated salad and less like a fresh crispy slice as soon as they go in the dressing. If you wanted the chunks to stay a bit firmer and absorb more of the dressing, I would suggest:
      1 – buy a watermelon which is ripe but not overly ripe. If the bright pink interior is a little bit soft or mealy to begin with, it will be harder to keep any semblance of structure to the pieces.
      2 – Make sure that the watermelon is very well chilled. Room temperature watermelon, once dressed, is an exercise in sliminess.
      3 – After cutting the watermelon into chunks you can chill them on a wire rack set above a baking sheet (with a lip) in the fridge for a half hour. Some of the excess liquid will drain out and the outsides will have a chance to dry *just a touch* which means that it will hold the dressing better without getting sodden in a sea of watermelon juice.
      4 – Don’t make this salad in advance. Have you ever bought a fruit cup from the supermarket? You know how there is always a glut of el-cheapo watermelon at the bottom, and how it always feels just a bit squidgy because it has been stewing in the juices of other fruits all day? Even fruit-on-fruit action causes sogginess, that’s just unavoidable. However, the fresher it is the less opportunity for squidge there will be.

      Thank you again for stopping by the site, and we’re so glad that you tried out our recipe!!!

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