It's no secret that salt does wonders for fruit, and this is especially true for sweet, refreshing watermelon. Here, we take it a step farther and season the salt with spicy Aleppo pepper and citrusy sumac, giving this fruit salad an extra pop of flavor and making it something to remember rather than a side-dish afterthought.
To learn more, read "Spiceworld."
Tropical Watermelon Fruit Salad
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours for pickling
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes, plus 2 hours for pickling
For the Pickled Watermelon Rind:
½ seedless baby watermelon (about 3 pounds)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2⅓ cups water, divided
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
For the Aleppo-Sumac Salt:
3 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper
1½ teaspoons sumac
For the Fruit Salad:
4 cups watermelon pieces (from the baby watermelon above)
2 cups bite-size mango pieces (2 mangos)
1 cup pickled watermelon rind
1 cup sliced kiwi rounds (2 kiwis, peeled)
3 teaspoons Aleppo-sumac salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ cups bite-size avocado pieces (2 avocados)
½ cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
⅓ cup toasted and roughly chopped macadamia nuts
1. Make the pickled watermelon rind: Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the watermelon skin. Slice off the green flesh, leaving ¼ inch of the red flesh attached. Reserve the rest of the red watermelon for the salad.
2. Cut enough of the green watermelon into ¼-inch pieces until you have about 2 cups, and combine with the salt and 2 cups of the water. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining ⅓ cup of the water, both vinegars, the cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat.
4. Rinse the watermelon rind well and add it to the pickle brine saucepan. Bring to a boil, cooking for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a quart jar. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hour before using.
5. Make the salt: In a small bowl, combine the flaky sea salt, Aleppo pepper and sumac.
6. Assemble the salad: In a large serving bowl, combine the watermelon, mango, watermelon rind and kiwi. Season with the Aleppo-sumac salt, agave and lime juice, tossing gently to mix. Fold in the avocado pieces. Garnish with the coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and a pinch more of the Aleppo-sumac salt. Serve in a watermelon shark's head (optional).