Watermelon Caprese Salad with Lemon Zest

Mr Meatified discovered fairly recently that he loves traditional Caprese Salad (after years of claiming he couldn’t stand the stuff, naturally!). Since it’s been so hot, I’ve made him quite a few this summer. To make it more of a light evening meal, I started adding various different uncured meats to the original version.

Watermelon Caprese

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And then one day, we ran out of fresh basil. So instead I used my beloved Microplane to add some lemon zest on top. We enjoyed the extra touch of citrus tang so much that we now always add lemon zest, with or without the basil! Lately, Mr Meatified and I have been working our way through a giant watermelon that we greedily bought, despite the fact that there are only two of us to eat it. Yes, 1 giant watermelon + only 2 people to eat it before it goes bad is as much fun as it sounds: EVERY meal lately has had watermelon in it!

So in this Watermelon Caprese Salad, instead of using tomatoes as usual, I swapped them out for cute little watermelon rounds, cut out from fresh watermelon slices using a 2 inch cookie cutter so that they were the same size as our salami slices (I like this set which is double sided). The absence of tomatoes takes out all the acidity, which makes the fresh lemon zest sing all the more brightly!

When I first got my Microplane, I joked that I would be adding zest to everything, whether the dish needed it or not. You can rest assured, though, that in this instance, the zest really is wanted!

Watermelon Caprese

Oh, and in case you didn’t heed my warning: the great Watermelon Fest of 2013 is coming to this week’s recipes, so stay tuned!

Watermelon Caprese
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6 servings
Using watermelon instead of tomatoes makes this a softer less acidic dish than traditional Caprese. Fresh lemon zest adds a refreshing splash of brightness.
For the salad:
  • 4 - 5 slices of a large watermelon
  • 24 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 24 slices uncured Italian meat - I used salami
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
You will also need:
  1. Cut 24 watermelon rounds from the watermelon slices using a 2 inch fluted cookie cutter.
  2. On individual plates OR a large serving platter, alternate layers of mozzarella, uncured meat and watermelon rounds until all are used up.
  3. Season to taste and sprinkle with fresh basil.
  4. Use a Microplane or similar to zest the lemon, sprinkling over the salad(s).
  5. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil to serve.


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