Even though fruit and cheese tend to go together like soup and sandwich, the first time I saw watermelon and feta cheese paired up on a menu it struck me as very odd.
Apples and cheddar? Sure. Pears and Stilton? You know it. But I was sure that watermelon was much too watery to stand up to the bold flavor of feta, no matter that everyone tends to love the interplay of sweet and salt in general, and that the combo is hugely popular in Egypt, Israel and throughout the Balkans.
Well, those folks are right and I was dead wrong. Watermelon and feta are a great match — and they are at the center of this salad.
The grilled pork tenderloin here plays the same role as the chicken or shrimp added to a Caesar salad — it turns a side dish into a meal. By the way, the tenderloin is one of the leanest cuts of pork. And so long as you don’t overcook it — and give it a bit of a rest before slicing — it will be tender and juicy.
Now to the dressing, which teams up feta and buttermilk. Given its ability to provide creaminess (and tang) to a recipe without adding a ton of fat, buttermilk is one of my favorite cheating ingredients. And the feta is so flavorful — and its texture so pleasurable — that I crumbled some extra onto the finished salad.
At the end, you’ll add some crunch in the form of homemade baked whole-wheat pita croutons. These are so easy to make, I never bother with the packaged varieties, which are usually deep-fried and loaded with fat.
Voila, the perfect summer meal in a bowl. Refreshing and filling.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Watermelon-Arugula Salad
Start to finish: 50 minutes (25 minutes active)