It’s a rare day when I’m invited to a get-together and don’t bring a hostess gift or contribution to the gathering. This was one of the many lessons ingrained by my Nana, and for her it was usually scones or cookies from scratch or roses from the bushes in her front yard, wrapped in tinfoil. She told me that it was good manners to show appreciation for the invitation and the best way to do so was with something homemade.
On this particular evening, we were invited to our dear friend Lucy’s La Paz home for a Sundowner (Cruiser-speak for sunset cocktails) with two other couples. The three-story house (four, including the rooftop patio) is built on a hill with a breathtaking view of Bahia de La Paz and the Pacific Ocean.
When I was living in California, I could easily pop over to the store for virtually any ingredient I wanted and be home within 15 minutes. Here in Mexico, a trip to the store is an excursion unto itself, and there’s a good chance that some ingredients may not be in stock, so recipes in general can get quite creative and often take the form of whatever is currently in the fridge and pantry.
I’d gotten several craft cheeses at the local Farmer’s Market but no crackers (which are not abundantly available in Mexico). I had a variety of fresh fruit (always in abundance) and fresh herbs. What to do?
A lovely little watermelon was hanging in the basket over my galley sink. Aha! I’d make the watermelon mint salad or watermelon feta bites I’ve made in the past that were always a refreshing summer appetizer. (And it’s always summer in Mexico!) So I cut the melon in half and was surprised to find that it was yellow, not red. Also, I didn’t have feta or mint, but I did have goat cheese and basil. So, this recipe is the result of my substitutions 🙂
- Either red or yellow watermelon works, but I found that yellow has a milder flavor then red. It is still sweet, but the sweetness is less powerful so other ingredients are needed to pack a flavor punch. I accomplished this with the balsamic vinegar and honey drizzle.
- Try different semi-soft cheeses such as mozzarella or one of the many types of Mexican cheeses. They do need to be firm enough to cut into small pieces (not a spreadable goat cheese or brie for example) or so firm that they crumble when a toothpick is inserted. You could easily make this a vegan dish by substituting non-dairy cheese.
- Try different herbs, or perhaps a combo. I’ll try arugula, cilantro and parsley in the future.
- For the drizzle, I used a honey balsamic vinegar and honey. Try other flavored balsamic vinegars and honeys, or add a few dashes of hot sauce for a spicy finish.
- Instead of salt and pepper, I bet Tajin (a favorite of mine!) would also be wonderful when sparingly sprinkled on top.
- 1 small watermelon (go with a seedless to save time in picking out the seeds)
- 1 small bunch of fresh basil
- Block of semi-soft cheese
- 2 T organic honey
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- Fresh ground pepper
- Course sea salt
- Slice and then cut watermelon into bite size cubes; arrange on serving platter.
- Julienne basil leaves and sprinkle over the watermelon cubes, making sure at least a few strips are on each piece.
- Count your watermelon cubes and then cut enough pieces of cheese into squares or triangles that will fit on the watermelon.
- Stack the cheese pieces on top of the watermelon cubes and basil.
- Spear each cube with a toothpick.
- Mix the honey and balsamic vinegar and drizzle liberally over the cubes.
- Grind the fresh black pepper and sprinkle the sea salt over the cubes.
- Serve immediately.
Note: If you are not going to serve right away, refrigerate the cubes, drain off the juice, and add the honey/vinegar and salt and pepper right before serving.
For my Watermelon Mint Salad recipe (and other Small Bites) click on this link: https://vivoosonho.com/2018/10/25/small-bites/