Vegan Watermelon Feta Balsamic Salad With Tofu Feta + Mint

Watermelon goes surprisingly well in salads. I still remember the first time I had watermelon in a lettuce salad. It was at LPQ right when I moved to NYC to start at NYU. It was served with arugula + feta + mint and seriously good balsamic.

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My mom and I adored this meal. To us, the flavor combo was new. Now, you see this stuff all over. But at the time, it seemed like a fun, wild treat to us. Something I totally would have Insta’d. But that was an age where people didn’t Insta their food. Strange to think about, I know.

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Anyways, when watermelon is in season, I have thrown it into salads ever since that day. I love it.

Now I’m plant-based mostly, and rarely have feta around. Even when I wasn’t plant-based, I rarely bought cheese because it was rare I’d use cheese for more than just a garnish. I was never a huge cheese eater.

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But it adds such a nice a lovely saltiness and a bit of staying power to the salad. So here we are. I used this homemade tofu feta, but you can totally use conventional feta or purchase a plant-based feta at the store.

Arugula provides a nice peppery green, but you can also use baby kale or whatever green you want.go together surprisingly well together. I also often add avocado to this salad. Because avocado. Duh.

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Also, it’s essential to use a good balsamic. I mean, really you don’t have to, but it will truly kick it up a notch. And if you haven’t experienced a really good balsamic yet in your life, you should. They are sweet and sticky and wonderful.

I used this one from Trader Joe’s, which I’d highly reccomend.

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Speaking of Trader Joe’s, I need to hit it up tomorrow. This week has been crazy busy. I started 2 new jobs, did a lot of freelance, and took a day trip to Chicago, which I’ll be sharing soon.

Stay tuned!

Tofu Feta

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: 1 as entree or 2 as side, easily doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups arugula, baby kale, or spinach
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 3/4 cup tofu feta or conventional feta, or plant-based store-bought feta
  • 1/2 large avocado, sliced (optional)
  • roughly 1/4th cup fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons high quality balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Assemble greens, avocado, watermelon, mint and tofu feta in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of balsamic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

 

 

Fudgy Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins – with a Surprise Ingredient [Watermelon!]

I like chocolately muffins. I like to dip them in almond or soy milk, or mash them up into Greek Yogurt. It makes a great substitute for a froyo creation when I’m too lazy to seek it out. I kind of like those VitaTop muffin things. The chocolate ones. But they’re expensive and I tend to only buy them when they are on sale at Target. So that’s a bummer. But I can get by.

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In addition to chocolate muffins, I also like the challenge of vegan baking. I always have. No, I’m not currently vegan. I am, however, a vegetarian of f 13+ years and recently have been progressing towards a more plant based diet.  Lately I’ve just been more and more into earthy stuff and the challenge of creating things with stuff straight from motha nature (also this book doe…). Now I know that baked goods aren’t something you’d typically pick off a tree, but I really genuinely do enjoy vegan baking sometimes. Buttercream is a beautiful thing and if you follow me on Instagram you know I’m a bitch for ice cream, but there’s something to be said about vegan baked goods. Sometimes, without all the mingling flavors of eggs and butter and other stuff, I believe you can actually taste the flavors more intensely. In fact, some of the most pure tasting and flavorful ice creams/gelatos and pasteries I’ve had have coincidentally be vegan. So be open minded, friends. And open mouthed.

These muffins, like a lot of other vegan baked goods, are rly fudgey and intensely chocolatey. Both great things.

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I’ve seen a lot of vegan baking recipes that use applesauce to add sweetness and texture to baked goods. This is a great trick. I do it all the time. And I almost did for these muffins. But then I also realized I had a boatload of watermelon which I happened to be snacking on while I started baking. So I decided to experiment with pureeing some up and using it instead of applesauce in my recipe. Why? Why the hell not. It’s nutritious and delicious just like applesauce added some natural sweetness and tons of moisture and a springy bite to the muffins.

Do these taste like watermelon? No. Not really. They mostly just tasted really chocolately. That’s not the point though. The point is that I like to experiment and this substitution happened to work splendidly. It also has inspired me to play around with baking with watermelon. Perhaps I will actually try to use it as a flavoring agent in a future baking project. Anyways, happy eating.

[Ps – there’s a half marathon recap after dis recipe.]

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup coca powder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk (can use regular if not going for vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 cup pureed watermelon
  • 1 + 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (double check for non-dairy if you’re vegan, or don’t if you don’t care)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine almond milk and vinegar and set aside for at least 10-15 minutes. This will allow it to curdle. It’s like DIY buttermilk. It will provide leavening and acidity to the final product.

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3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.


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4. Use a food processor or blender to puree a cup of cubed watermelon.

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5. Combine dry and wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add one cup chocolate chips.

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7. Line a muffin tin (tray? whatever) with 12 muffin cup things. Spoon batter into each. It may help to use an ice cream scoop for this. Trust me here it’ll change your life.

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8. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup (or more) chocolate chips all over the top of the muffins.

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9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, clean bowl with spatula via your mouth. Your dog may park herself in front of the oven and watch you do this.

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10. Cool completely and eat. These taste better cold. I would recommend storing them in the fridge. They taste fudgier that way.  And/or mashed up into Greek Yogurt.

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Watermelon Arugula Feta Salad with Mint

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This just might be my favorite salad of all times. Which is a bold statement, considering I eat and love a lot of salads.

If while reading the title of the recipe you felt a slight bit of skepticism, I don’t blame you. The first time I saw this on a menu at my beloved Le Pain Quotidian,  I was a bit hesitant to order it myself. Would the feta and watermelon work together? And with balsamic? I wondered. It seemed like a rather odd mash up of flavors. Luckily, my curiosity over-rid my timidness, and I selected the salad as my lunch entree.

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From the first forkful of watermelon and feta together, I couldn’t get enough of the pairing. Watermelon, sweet and lusciousness, physically and literally attracts dry, tangy, crumbly feta, and the two stick together to deliver a wild flavor explosion to the senses. What is extreme in each is balanced beautifully by the other, and the addition of peppery arugula, and a surprise element of fresh mint, add add up to a salad that with each bit leaves you eager for another, desperate for a change to figure out what dance of flavors is going on in your mouth.

Easy to assemble, this is a perfect summer salad for entertaining, even for a hesitant guest. Best made in summer when watermelon is in season, I served this at my sister’s bachelorette brunch this Saturday, but it makes a welcome and bold addition to any summer gathering, or a perfect solo lunch dish.

For the salad (below serves one as an entree; double for four people as a side dish)

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3/4 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • handful of fresh mint
  • optional: a quarter of a thinly sliced cucumber
  • optional: half a sliced heirloom tomato

Getting dressed:

  • one part (2-3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • one part balsamic
  • salt and peper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine arugula and watermelon cubes. Crumble feta over the two.
  2. Chop fresh mint, mix.
  3. If adding cucumber and tomato, chop and add to salad.
  4. Mix olive oil and balsamic in small separate bowl. Pour over salad.
  5. Add salt and cracked pepper to taste.
  6. Go to flavor heaven.

Simple as that. Serve among chewy fresh bread and enjoy what is to be your favorite summer dish.

xoxo,

-KBakes

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