RED Hearts: Easy Summer Salads

RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today’s RED Hearts post is from RED editor Amy Goldwasser, in NYC, who writes about sweet and savory summer treats:

July is about fruit for me. Berries definitely come to mind before fireworks, and if the packaging were more convenient, I’d carry a watermelon with me at all times -- right there with the cardigan that fights over-air conditioning.

What’s special about this July and fruit, though, is that I’ve discovered a way to make its juicy, summer sweetness even better: adding something savory. A drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette or a dose of fresh black pepper really brings the flavor of the fruit out in delicious contrast.

My summer 2012 favorite in this category, simple perfection with a little bit of surprise, is a watermelon, basil and balsamic vinaigrette salad (pictured). I like Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing -- which, oooh, I now see they also recommend over pears. Good idea, Newman's. Ideally, the basil is homegrown (this is the easiest plant to keep happy, just a bit of sunshine and a windowsill will do), and the watermelon from a farmer’s market, but you can’t go wrong here. Just put it together to taste. You can also add cheese. Fresh mozzarella works well, as does feta. (I’m prone to taking the feta rec from this blogger, who confesses, “I may or may not have eaten watermelon for dinner three nights in a row.”) If you’re into fancying it up, or wielding a melon baller, or geometry -- cubes are always cute -- here’s a classy amuse bouche version.

Berries, too, are instant balsamic BFFs. Just pour some over the top of strawberries, with or without a shake of black pepper. Or bring it into the dessert course: A scoop of vanilla gelato with blueberries and strawberries and balsamic will end any meal on the grill in style -- kind of the elegant, grownup version of the old red-white-and-blue Firecracker Popsicle.

RED Hearts guest poster Amy Goldwasser is the editor of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.