Chef John Critchley's Miami Spice Watermelon Salad, Part One

Last night at Whole Foods Coral Gables, Chef John Critchley broke down some of the dishes from Area 31's Miami Spice menu. Of course, he added that deft touch that only decades of practice can bring. However, the recipes are relatively simple for the home cook to replicate.

Critchley prepared a watermelon salad with ricotta salata and peaches, followed by a Key West yellowtail snapper with citrus and herb reduction.

Of course, if you don't feel like preparing these dishes at home, you can try Area 31's versions, which are part of their Miami Spice dinner menu

Other chefs will demonstrate their Miami Spice recipes at Whole Foods Coral Gables throughout the month of September, including David Sloane of Rosa Mexicano (9/16), Cindy Hutson of Ortanique (9/22), and Philippe Chow of Philippe Chow Miami Beach (9/28). The free demos are at 7 p.m. Call 305-421-9421 to sign up.

Recipe for watermelon salad and step by step pictures follow after the jump. Photo post of yellowtail snapper recipe coming soon.

Ingredients for the watermelon salad

Halve, then quarter a watermelon.  Cube one of the quarters and place in bowl.

Halve two pieces of stone fruit (he used peaches), then slice.

Gently break mint flowers apart and sprinkle into salad.

Season with lemon juice and grapeseed oil...

...Maldon sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  You can use regular iodized salt, but Chef Critchley prefers sea salt because you can use less for more flavor.

Add a few handfuls of fresh pea tendrils.

This isn't mentioned in his recipe, but Critchley added the special touch of lemon zest. Critchley noted how zest can add flavor without increasing acidity. You can use a microplane...

...or use your knife skills, as Critchley did to prepare our guest audience portions before the demo started.

Grate and add the ricotta salata (a dry ricotta), then carefully toss.

The salad is best eaten immediately.  If you end up storing it, the

watermelons get soft and break down. However, if that happens, Critchley

suggests blending the salad to reinvent it as a chilled soup.

Chef John Critchley's Watermelon Salad

Serves 2


1 quart watermelon, cubed
2 peaches, sliced
¼ cup pea shoots
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons ricotta salata
Mint flowers


Combine watermelon, peaches, and pea shoots together in a mixing bowl.  In another bowl, mix lemon juice and grapeseed oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the watermelon mixture with the vinaigrette and finish with ricotta cheese.  Garnish the plate with mint flowers.

Wine pairing

A crisp clean white wine such as alabarino, sauvignon blanc, or even sparkling wine.

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