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August 15, 2014

Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Basil Oil

Infusing your own oils may sound like mad kitchen science — but it’s about as easy a DIY project as they come. Boil some water, blanche your herbs, blend them with oil, push the mix through a strainer, and you’re done. Infused oils will keep for weeks in the fridge (or months in the freezer), and you’ll be inventing new recipes just to devour as much as possible.

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Basil-infused oil takes this salad of cubed watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and goat cheese to fresh heights. Serve it as a side to simple grilled meat or fish, and be happy it’s not September yet.

For the Basil Oil
2 cups fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

For the Salad
6 cups cold cubed watermelon (from about 4 1/2 pounds watermelon), rind removed
3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 Kirby cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices on the bias
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup crumbled soft goat cheese (4 ounces)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Make the basil oil: Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch basil for 1 minute. Transfer to ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain.

2. Puree basil in a blender with olive oil until smooth. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined fine sieve set over a bowl. Let stand until oil drips through, about 1 hour (do not squeeze cheesecloth).

3. Make the salad: Toss together watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil, and lemon juice in a bowl. Transfer to a serving platter, and sprinkle with goat cheese. Drizzle with basil oil and more olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil.

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