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Watermelon, Cucumber, and Avocado Salad with Ricotta
In the summer, I can’t imagine anything better than crisp, juicy watermelon, fresh cucum¬ber, and creamy avocado bathing together in a bowl of peppery finishing oil. The simplicity of this breezy salad doesn’t negate the attention to detail required. The watermelon and cucumber should be cool, if not downright cold, and the avocado perfectly ripe. Be sure to play up the peppery finish with the freshly ground pepper and olive oil.
Lavish dollops of fresh ricotta or shaved ricotta salata are like gilding the lily, especially if you’re lucky enough to have access to a great locally made cheese. As for presentation, you can make this salad into art by pulling out your best knife skills and cutting everything into perfect cubes. I’m more likely to chop haphazardly, in a rush to get these intoxicating ingredients straight to my plate.
8 oz/225 g seedless red or yellow watermelon or sugar baby watermelon, chilled
1 large seedless cucumber, chilled
2 firm, ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1⅓ cups/195 g ricotta salata cheese or 1¹⁄₃ cups/335 g fresh ricotta, at room temperature
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Finishing oil for drizzling
Flaked sea salt such as Maldon and freshly ground pepper
Start with cold watermelon and cucumber straight from the fridge. Cut the watermelon, cucumber, and avocados into bite-size cubes and arrange artfully on a platter or toss them loosely together in your favorite salad bowl. Shave ricotta salata over the top or dollop with fresh ricotta, sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with finishing oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold.