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.
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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