Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta
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I feel a little silly dedicating an entire post to this wee Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta. As I said in a recent Instagram post, this is less of a recipe and more of a styling exercise. But this combo tasted so good that it seemed cruel to keep it from you. So here we are with a less-than-five-step recipe that is more of a concept. It’s fair to ask what this historic combo is. You’re looking at a solid disc of juicy watermelon topped with a ribbon of whipped ricotta dotted with bits of olive drizzled with Calabrian chili oil. The salad is finished with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios and bits of wood sorrel. 

Whipped ricotta in a bowl.

The best part is you can throw this plating style out and build the salad how you want. You could pile the cubes of watermelon on a plate and add a dollop of whipped ricotta, a drizzle of Calabrian chilis, and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios. The wood sorrel is optional, I just happen to have a lot of it growing in my garden at the moment. It has a beautiful tang but the dish will taste great with or without it.

A watermelon on a cutting board.

Another option is you could start with a base of whipped ricotta, toss the watermelon in a little of the chili oil, and place it on top of the cheese. Then add your crushed pistachios and what have you. You don’t need to whip out a piping bag to make this dish work. Recipes are more or less suggestions. Make the food you want to see in the world. And let your dishes be as complicated as you want. 

Punching out discs of watermelon.

Now, just because the plating seems complicated doesn’t mean the dish is. Each of the components included in this recipe are dead simple to make. And if you spring for the shelled pistachios, you can make this thing in 30 minutes or less. So let’s start with the most time-intensive component – the whipped ricotta. It feels wrong even giving it that title because it will take you all of five minutes.

Crushed pistachios in a glass.

Start by plunking a clove of garlic in a food processor with a little salt. Blitz until it resembles mulch. Add a tub of ricotta and turn the food processor back on. Slowly stream in a 1/4 cup of olive oil and continue to blitz until the cheese is silky smooth. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and set it aside. 

You will make more whipped ricotta than you need for this recipe. I just prefer to use the tub in one go that way I don’t forget about the leftovers. And trust me, having whipped ricotta in your fridge is no hardship. Add a dollop to your pasta, spread it on toast, and add a little richness to your greens. Whipped ricotta has a gentle flavor and a knockout texture. It’s capable of being at home in many different places.

Pitting and chopping the olives on a cutting board.

Now to tackle the remaining toppings. Pour some shelled pistachios into a food processor and blitz until you have a fine crumble. I used jalapeño flavored pistachios but you can use whatever style of pistachio you like. And then grab a few olives, pit them, and chop them nice and fine. We want that salty counterpoint to the sweet watermelon but we don’t want to overwhelm it. That’s why I like to keep the olive pieces relatively small, so you get a small hit of saltiness evenly distributed across the watermelon disc.

Topping the watermelon disc with whipped ricotta and olive pieces.

And speaking of the watermelon disc, it’s time we tackled them. Slice your watermelon into rounds. This is potentially the most challenging portion of this recipe. Don’t be too concerned if your watermelon slices aren’t even. We can level our watermelon discs after we cut them. Punch out the watermelon discs using a 3” biscuit cutter and set them aside.

Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

Now, it’s time to build our Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta. Bear in mind the plating alternatives I mentioned earlier. Transfer the whipped ricotta to a large piping bag fitted with a 480 tip. Pipe the ricotta onto the watermelon disc in a pleasing fashion. I just piped it in a sort of accordion back-and-forth style. Next, arrange the olive pieces on top of the ricotta. Drizzle the ricotta with the Calabrian chili oil, and sprinkle everything with the pistachios. Finally, add a few sprigs and blooms of wood sorrel if you have any handy. 

And that’s everything you need to know about this Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta. A playful, design-forward take on the classic summer dish. 

Enjoy!

Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

Watermelon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

This playful take on a Watermelon Salad features a disc of juicy watermelon topped with ribbons of whipped ricotta and olives garnished with Calabrian chili oil, crushed pistachios, and wood sorrel.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Servings 4

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor
  • 1 3" biscuit cutter
  • 1 Large Piping Bag
  • 1 480 piping tip

Ingredients
  

Whipped Ricotta **

  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 (475g) tub full-fat ricotta
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Watermelon Salad

  • watermelon
  • 1 batch Whipped Ricotta see above
  • ¼ cup mixed olives pitted, quartered, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Calabrian chili oil
  • ¼ cup pistachios*** crushed
  • wood sorrel leaves and blooms optional

Instructions
 

For the Whipped Ricotta

  • Place the garlic and salt in a food processor and blitz until it resembles mulch. Add the ricotta and turn the food processor back on. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blitz until silky smooth.
  • Transfer the whipped ricotta to a bowl and set aside.

For the Watermelon Salad

  • Slice the watermelon into rounds. Using a 3" biscuit cutter punch out four discs from the watermelon slices. Trim any excess melon, so the discs lay flat.
  • Transfer the whipped ricotta to a piping bag fitted with a 480 piping tip. Pipe the whipped ricotta onto each watermelon disc, slowly moving the tip back and forth along the disc.
  • Arrange the olive slices on top of the ricotta and drizzle them with the chili oil. Finish the salad with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios and wood sorrel leaves and blooms. Serve immediately.

Notes

** You will make more whipped ricotta than you need for this recipe but it keeps very well in the fridge and it is a lovely addition to pastas, toast, and/or salads. 
*** I used jalapeño flavored pistachios but feel free to use whatever flavor you prefer. 
Keyword olives, pistachio, ricotta, watermelon

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