I’m discovering it’s pretty easy to cook vegan for myself at home, but my new challenge is finding party foods that are 1) easy to throw together 2) have mass appeal 3) fully plant based. Of course, with labor day weekend here I found myself having some creative difficulties. Enter watermelon salad.
Who doesn’t love a perfectly ripe watermelon at the end of summer? Pretty much any recipe involving watermelon is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I was almost tempted to buy real feta for to make this watermelon salad, but then I thought to myself…NO! I don’t need to compromise my lifestyle for the sake of pleasing others. There HAS to be a vegan way. Then I remembered…I HAD made vegan feta before and it was EXCELLENT! All it took was a google search and I immediately found the one I had used before.
The feta recipe comes from Bianca Zapatka. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you MUST. She is the queen of fancy desserts and comforting dinners. I love her vegan feta recipe because it’s incredibly simple and easy to do. It’s also a great way to sneak in protein into any meal you serve it with because it’s actually made from tofu! After experimenting with it twice, I do have some tweaks and suggestions for you, which I’ll share in my recipe below.
One disclaimer, making this recipe DOES require some planning ahead for the feta. It’s best if you can make it the night before and refrigerate overnight, or at the very least season it in the morning and let the flavors soak in over several hours. If you are about to make this recipe RIGHT before heading to a party, you’ll have to opt for store bought feta (Myokos brand makes a pretty good vegan feta that’s extremely smooth and actually reminds me of goat cheese more than feta…).
I have made this recipe twice, and I also found that working with previously frozen tofu gives it an extra wonderful texture and really enhances the absorption of flavors. If you cook with tofu often, I recommend getting in the habit of always having a block of it in your freezer because it really does make the texture so much better in almost every context! If you aren’t great at planning ahead, I recommend pressing, then freezing the tofu overnight, and then seasoning it in the morning and refrigerating throughout the day. That should be enough time for the flavors to come together and the tofu to transform!
Watermelon, Mint, and Vegan Feta Salad
Tofu based feta, watermelon, and fresh mint make a refreshing, delicious, and healthy salad perfect for summer gatherings
- 1 small seedless watermelon or half of a large one (save the rest for dessert!!)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Optional: additional salt and pepper to taste For the Feta:
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp miso paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (or 1 tbsp white vinegar)
- For the feta, if first freezing: press and drain the tofu between two stacks of dish towels. Sit a heavy object over it (such as a book or pan) and let it sit for about 15 minutes to get out as much liquid as possible. Freeze tofu overnight and thaw the next day. After thawing the tofu, chop into small cubes and mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, plus the seasonings, miso paste, and lemon juice. Place tofu in a small tupperware and cover with mixture. Shake it up so the mixture distributes, then leave overnight in the refrigerator or as long as possible!
- Chop up your mint leaves and your watermelon into small cubes
- Mix together the feta, watermelon, and mint at the last minute. This dish tastes best when the ingredients are freshly put together. If you need to prep ahead, keep the watermelon and feta separate until the last possible second. Add 1/4 cup olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste to finish it off.
- Enjoy! Your friends and family will love it!
PS: Try my Mexican Three Bean Salad for another SUPER easy summer salad to bring to your next barbecue! Between the watermelon salad, the three bean salad, and the sweet potato black bean burgers (recipe by The Minimalist Baker) we had MORE than enough food and it was all DELICIOUS!
PPS: For the aioli pictured up top, take two parts veganise to one part sriracha. Finely mince one to two cloves garlic, combine, and let marinade for at least one hour before serving. It REALLY kicks your burgers up another notch!!!
Let me know what you think! I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions. Drop a comment below, follow my blog, or find me on instagram (@chrissygoeshippy)