We’ve had a mini heatwave here in Melbourne these last few days. A tantalising taste of the summer yet to come. And it’s been a long time coming. After weeks of cold, relatively damp, and at times incredibly windy, weather we’re more than ready to emerge from those thick woollen coats, eye’s blinking in the foreign sunlight. Ehhh it’s not that bad. But yay for summer! Spring puts a well, spring, in your step. There’s new hope. Tasks that before seemed momentous now appear achievable. Fatigue is somewhat more manageable. Sleep deprivation not quite so bad. I think we all agree that it’s easier to get up early when the sun is shining through your window! The summer break is just around the corner – forging your way through the wall of study/work/other tasks becomes that little bit easier. And even more so when you’ve got a refreshing plate of salad to dig into!
These last few months have seen an awful lot happen. No wonder the bone-weary tiredness has set in. Despite the busyness it’s important to reflect on what’s happened. To lock those moments, the good and the bad, away somewhere. Brain or heart – it’s your choice. Half marathon? That happened. You haven’t been able to run properly since, but boy was it worth it. All the weeks of training, of getting up at 6am on a Sunday when everyone is still sleeping or only just sheepishly returning from a night out, to go run through Melbourne. Remember that 18km run when it rained for the whole 90 minutes? And how you felt like a kick-ass superhero (and looked like a drowned rat)?
There was a 21st birthday. You’ve mostly reconciled yourself with the fact that you’re no longer a spring chicken. You still think life’s moving to damn fast. Where’s the pause button? There was so much love for the people you’ve met in the last two years. For the people you actually can’t imagine life without anymore. You felt so lucky, so privileged, so happy you thought you might explode with it.
And what about that five week trip to the UK? How you decided to walk from Slough to Eton and got lost following the path through the fields, ending up trespassing through Eton College and being stung multiple times by nettles. Yeah Australia has many plants/animals that are ‘meanies’, but nettles ain’t one. It’s easy to forget they exist. Or how happy you were digging up potatoes and planting cabbages when volunteering in that walled garden at Scotney Castle. How you went back to Oxford and were SO glad you made the decision to leave. That you finally came to terms with that part of your life. You no longer see yourself as a failure but someone who followed their gut regardless of the speculation from others. There’s no longer that stab of self-doubt and criticism every time someone says “but why on earth would you leave?”. And of course, we can’t forget that divine meal at River Cottage Canteen, Axminster! How you fan-girled so hard.
Then wham! Second semester hit. Those spontaneous trips to the coast and to the country from the prior term began to feel so very long ago. There was college netball. You pulled your hair out so many times it’s surprising you’re not bald. There’s also mixed netball – those bunged up ankles mean you’re playing goal shooter. If you’d told your 14 year-old self that, you would have peed yourself laughing. Oh and that leadership forum thingo in Canberra. That was fun. Despite coming at a stressful time. Putting on those Student Club Presidential shoes was a scary thing. But you’re getting more used to it now. Baby steps, okay?
Amidst the general study and work commitments too, there’s not been much time to make salads such as this beauty. Or anything for that matter. But summer’s around the corner! And that means virtually living in the kitchen once again. Hang in there for the last few week! Then you can chop up the sweet, crisp watermelon (sneaking a few cheeky bites along the way) and crumble the creamy feta (from a farmers market because, hey, you’ll have the time!) Making the balsamic glaze is a pinch of salt and left-overs go down a treat atop of other salads or over your morning avocado on toast. Even drizzled over a bowl of fresh strawberries! Serve as a side, or as part of a spread of salads. Alternatively try digging into a bowl for a refreshing mid-afternoon snack!
Feta, Watermelon & Mint Salad with Balsamic Glaze
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
700g watermelon (rind already removed), cut into 2cm cubes
200g feta (I used light sheeps/goat), cut into 1cm cubes
Handful of mint leaves
To make the balsamic glaze place the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Stir well. Set over a high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened and halved in size. You should have a dark, glossy liquid that drips slowly off a spoon. Transfer to a small bowl or jug and leave to cool.
In a large bowl gently toss together the watermelon, feta and half of the mint leaves. Transfer to a serving plate/bowl and garnish with the remaining mint leaves. Drizzle over as much balsamic reduction as desired – I used about ½ of the reduction.
Balsamic reduction will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.