Tart peach and watermelon salad

Perfectly ripe stone fruits can be elusive, even at the season's peak. This salad pairs tartness of under ripe fruit with sweet watermelon and adds a tangy dressing to bring the flavors together.

Pickles and Tea
Under ripe peaches combine with watermelon and a tangy dressing for a refreshing summer fruit salad.

As odd as the combination of ingredients in this dish may sound, they actually play very well together. And it’s a wonderful, not-so-ordinary, way to use up the bushels of fruit that show up in summer.

After a U-Pick trip to a peach orchard several years ago, I was left with several firm peaches that weren’t suited for jam- and pie-making or eating out of hand. I was at a loss what to do with them because they refused to ripen further (which is the case with stone fruit). Then I recalled an Indonesian fruit salad (asinan buah) my mom used to make that usually stars pineapple, jicama, green mango, and a host of other tropical fruit. I decided to pair the peaches with watermelon and toss them in a facsimile of this dressing.

The point of this salad is to punch up the flavor of bland or sour-tasting fruit that would otherwise be blah in the mouth. I reckon that under ripe plums or pluots, also abundant at this time of year, would taste great, too. The key is to find fruit that’s firm with a tart edge to them, or in the case of watermelon, fruit that isn’t super sweet. If the fruit is too mushy or sweet, the sweet, spicy, sour dressing will be lost on them.

You can certainly use any or all of these fruits — tropical or not – but do enjoy this refreshing snack on a hot and sunny summer day. Or serve it alongside grilled meats.

Tart peach and watermelon salad

Makes: 6 servings

2 firm, underripe peaches or nectarines cut into 1/2-inch chunks (12 ounces, 3 cups)
 1-1/2 cups watermelon cut into 1/2-inch chunks (6 ounces)
 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
 1 to 2 teaspoons bottled chili paste (or more depending on your taste)
 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
 1/2 cup boiling water
 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1. Drain the peaches and watermelon in a colander over the sink while you prepare the dressing.

2. Place the sugar, chili paste, and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the boiling water and vinegar and stir well. Taste and add more water or vinegar if desired. Let the dressing cool.

3. Tumble in the peaches and watermelon and toss. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Related post on Pickles and Tea: Creamy leachy popsicles

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