I love borders. August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know.
Twilight is the border between day and night, and the shore is the border between sea and land.
The border is longing: when both have fallen in love but still haven't said anything.
The border is to be on the way. It is the way that is the most important thing.
– Tove Jansson
I can feel it; I can see it with my own eyes. The days are getting shorter and the nights cover the sky with a dark cloak. Only the moon and bright stars shed some light on the serene midnight lake scenery. But as much as I love the Nordic summers and the nightless nights, this shift of seasons feels good. It feels right and I welcome it with open arms. To be honest with you, it would be very hard for me to live in a place without four distinct seasons. I think I would get bored. And as much as I hate to admit it, I think I would miss the snow and darkness as well.
There's certainly something utterly comforting in these dark, warm summer nights. They invite you to light a candle and read a good book. They make a tremendous backdrop for a crayfish party. They call you into the kitchen to bake a loaf of bread or even a cake.
Although kids are returning to school after their 10-week-long summer vacation and life is slowly shifting from simple, slow-paced summer cottage life to the usual urban routines, summer isn't over yet. We've had a very unusually long and warm weather during the last couple of weeks with temperatures around 30°C (85°F). It's not quite the weather I fancy to spend much time in the kitchen, so I've been grilling a lot. Grilled vegetables are a staple, and I've particularly fallen in love with the taste of grilled fennel (Haven't tried it? You must!). I often add grilled vegetables to my salads. The smoky flavor is very welcome and I like to combine different flavors and textures to make my salads more interesting and complete.
This grilled watermelon salad is a new summer favorite. I got a few skeptical looks when I told what I was planning to make for dinner. "You're going to grill that watermelon? How? Are you sure? Is this your own idea?" I replied that no, this wasn't my idea, and that I had come across it every now and then but had never got the chance to try it myself, and that I was quite sure that I had something absolutely delicious in the making. "Trust me", I said. The first bite convinced even the most skeptical ones. The whole table came to the conclusion that this salad was a winner; the peppery arugula, the saltiness of feta cheese, the crunchy pumpkin seeds, the protein rich beluga lentils, and the juicy, sweet watermelon pieces with a wonderful smokiness. Furthermore, it looks gorgeous and is quick and easy to make. The prefect summer salad, so to speak.
Grilled Watermelon Salad
This salad can easily be prepared in advance and assembled just before serving. If you want to serve the watermelon so that it's still hot, grill it just before ready to serve.
130 g (1 heaping dl; ½ cup) beluga lentils, rinsed & picked over
90 g (1 heaping dl; ½ cup) pumpkin seeds
200 g (7 oz) feta cheese, drained & broken into chunks
2 red scallions, sliced
2 large bunches of arugula, washed & dried
half a small watermelon (mine was about 1300 g / 3 lb), cut into 2,5cm (1") thick slices
For the vinaigrette
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
a drizzle of honey or agave nectar
fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cook the beluga lentils al dente according to packet instructions. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat stirring regularly until they start to brown slightly, pop open, and are fragrant. Be careful not to burn them as this happens rather quickly. Add a pinch of salt and set aside.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to assemble.
To grill the watermelon, heat your grill on medium-high heat. Lightly brush the watermelon slices with olive oil. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until charred. Remove from heat and dice. Set aside.
To assemble, put the lentils, about two-thirds of the pumpkin seeds, feta, scallions, arugula, and dressing into a large bowl. Toss to combine. Assemble the watermelon cubes on top of the salad and sprinkle the remaining pumpkin seeds on top. Serve and receive rave reviews.