I have a special treat for you today! My high school bestie, Susan is an incredibly talented home chef with impeccable taste in the kitchen. She’s here today to share a fantastic floral watermelon recipe with you that is sure to become your new favorite summer salad!
Just like being friends with Annie, it’s a true honor for me to be featured here for her floral theme dessert month! I don’t have a blog of my own any more, but I am still a passionate foodie, Yelp fanatic and decent home cook.
When she first pitched the floral idea, I immediately thought of hibiscus. It reminds me of sunny days in southern California, paired with delicious street taco’s and briny sea air. There are a million recipes for hibiscus drinks (which go great with tacos!) so I wanted to do something different. This floral twist on a classic watermelon feta salad came to mind next. It captures the feel of a bright summer day with cold drinks and refreshing food.
This glaze is incredibly simple. Hibiscus concentrate and honey. That’s it! However, hibiscus has a delightfully complex aroma and taste, making it a fun glaze to use for many different things.
The steeped hibiscus is a gorgeous, deep burgundy color. It closely resembles balsamic vinegar in consistency and acidity. However, it has the light, dusty taste of a floral bouquet along with a bright tangy taste similar to fresh lemon juice. It has a dry finish, but when combined with the honey for the glaze, the flavor rounds out and retains more of the initial floral essence. A strong bitter note will develop if it’s steeped too long, so be sure to set a timer on the initial steeping.
In this salad, the honey-subdued tartness of the hibiscus glaze contrasts and highlights the cool, crisp crunch of the watermelon and the salty pop of feta. It’s followed up with a refreshing mint aftertaste which innocently cleanses your pallet for another delicious bite of the sweetness from the watermelon and hibiscus.
Watermelon Feta Salad with Sweet Hibiscus Glaze
1 large Watermelon, diced
1/2 cup Crumbled Feta
1/2 cup Chopped Mint
1/2 cup Hibiscus Glaze (see recipe below)
Spread diced watermelon over a large rimmed serving platter or in a large shallow bowl. Evenly sprinkle the feta crumbles over the watermelon, then top with mint. Just before serving, drizzle with the hibiscus glaze.
For best results (especially if transporting the salad to a BBQ or other event) keep the ingredients separate and assemble salad just before serving.
Serves 10-12 people
1 cup (1 oz) dried hibiscus flowers
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup honey
In a glass container or French press, add the dried hibiscus and pour the boiling water over the flowers. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the flowers, pouring hibiscus water into a pot. Over medium high heat, reduce the liquid to 1/2 cup, about 8-10 minutes of a soft boil, stirring frequently. Add honey while reduction is still warm, stirring to combine. Let cool to room temperature. For best results, transfer to an airtight container and cool in the fridge overnight. As the glaze cools, it will become slightly thicker.
Yields about 3/4 cup glaze.
Note: Steeping it for longer will NOT result in a stronger flavor. It will result in a strongly bitter taste and is not recommended.
A Note About Hibiscus:
What is it?
Hibiscus is a flower in the Malvaceae, or the mallows, family. There are 679 species of hibiscus, and as far as I’m aware, most are edible once dried. The dried leaves are most often used in drinks or teas which are served hot or cold, depending on the region. Various countries have made a hibiscus flower it’s national flower, and it’s often strongly associated with their tourism.
One of the more iconic varies in the States is the bright red flower, with a long stigma with orange pollen buds on the end; one often seen in women’s hair in Hawaii.
Depending on the species hibiscus can be grown as a small tree, shrub, or even as a bush in a container on ones patio or rooftop. Bonus for the gardener – attract butterflies, bees, and humming birds.
Where to find it?
I found mine in a Turkish supermarket, but you’re also likely to find it at most Mexican food stores or online. Do not get hibiscus tea blend. You’ll end up with a weaker flavor even after reducing it down and miss out of the complexity of the hibiscus. You want to find something with one ingredient in it – dried hibiscus leaves/flowers. If it has other additives, keep looking.
What to do with leftover hibiscus concentrate?
It can be frozen on it’s own to be used later. Hibiscus concentrate cubes make for an absolutely stunning addition to fresh lemonade or other drinks.
The quick vinaigrette dressing recipe below is phenomenal over roasted veggies. Grill or broil the veggies with olive oil and salt, then generously drizzle over the plated veggies and watch your guests swoon. I particularly love it with asparagus, squash, zucchini, and Brussels. I made a double batch of this recently and froze it so I can have fresh dressing later in the month.
Hibiscus Vinaigrette Dressing:
In a blender, add:
3 to 4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup hibiscus concentrate
1/2 neutral flavored oil (grape seed or canola)
Blend until onions and garlic are well minced and mixture looks slightly frothy. Add oil and pulse until emulsified.
Store in fridge and use within one week, or freeze for up to 6 months in an airtight container.