Watermelon Feta Salad

Watermelon Salad with Dairy-Free Feta

It should come as no surprise that I think salads are one of the best summer meal options. They’re simple to make, so you can quickly assemble one for lunch or easily put together a large amount for a pool party.  

My Watermelon Salad with Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta is everything a salad should be—satisfying, healthy, and so good you’ll be eating it for the rest of the season. Watermelon is a great way to stay hydrated when it’s hot out (it contains 92% water!), and the fermented cheese fills your gut with friendly bacteria.

For an extra health benefit, I like to sprinkle my salad with fresh herbs. Cilantro or mint (or a bit of both) are excellent options, as they aid in digestion and help cleanse the body. I love how such little additions can ramp up the health and flavour profile of any meal.

Now, I know how challenging it can be to get in the kitchen when your schedule is crowded with everything from camp drop-offs to summer vacations. But here are some shortcuts: prepare the cheese in advance and buy the watermelon pre-cut. Then, it takes no time at all to pull together. If you’re on the go, pack it up for a picnic, road trip or potluck.

Watermelon Salad w/ Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta

Ingredients
Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta, prepared in advance (see recipe here)
2 ½ limes, juiced
½ cup coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 green onion, finely chopped  
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 seedless watermelon
1 cucumber
Chopped cilantro or mint

Directions

  1. To make the dressing, whisk the lime juice, oil, onion, salt and pepper. Let sit for one hour.
  2. Cut the watermelon and cucumber into 1-inch chunks.
  3.  Add the dressing and fresh herbs just before serving. Toss well.
  4.  Add the Feta and gently mix to incorporate into the salad. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this dairy-free, gut-friendly recipe as much as I do! Are there any other recipes or comfort foods you’d like me to make healthier? Let me know via email or in the comments below. Making the switch is easier than you’d think, and I’m here to help you on your delicious journey. 

Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta

You probably already know the health benefits of nuts—they’re full of protein and unsaturated fats. But what you might not know is that each kind of nut has unique health benefits. Another little-known fact? They can be made into delicious dairy-free cheeses!

I love using macadamia nuts when making fermented cheese, because they contain vitamin A, iron, protein (two grams per serving!), thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They also contain small amounts of selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

What all of this means is that macadamia nuts support digestion, bone health, and protect skin and hair. So you can probably guess that I love finding excuses to use these in my dishes. If you’re still not loving macadamia nuts, almonds are another great option for this recipe.

New to using nuts? One tip: nuts are best soaked or partially sprouted because they contain enzyme inhibitors that can strain the digestive tract when consumed in excess. Soaking your nuts makes them easier to digest and their nutrients more readily available. Salt also activates enzymes that neutralize enzyme inhibitors.

Now, on to the recipe…

Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta

Yield: 2 cups nut cheese

Ingredients
2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1 cup coconut kefir, or 1 cup water with 2 capsules of probiotic powder
1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion
1-2 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes or miso
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
¼-⅛ tsp. salt, plus more for soaking the nuts

Equipment
Jar for soaking the nuts
Nut cheese bag (Pro Quality Nut Milk Bag or Iqzeens Nut Milk Bag) or a paint strainer bag from you local hardware store. Alternatively, try this cheesecloth.

Directions

  1. Soak nuts overnight in salt water, then dry in a warm oven or dehydrator.
  2. Blend nuts and coconut kefir in a high-speed blender and continue to mix until smooth. Add more of your liquid if necessary to form a smooth, creamy texture. 
  3. Pour into a nut bag or cheesecloth-lined strainer. Allow to strain for 18-48 hours.
  4. After the fermentation process, remove the cheese from the nut bag or cheesecloth. Combine with the green onion, nutritional yeast, lemon, garlic, and salt.
  5. Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use. Season further or sweeten your cheese as desired before serving.

Gut Girl Notes

  • Be sure to store your cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator; nut cheese will last for up to two weeks.
  • When straining, you can place the nut bag over a bowl or a colander with a weight on top. This will apply pressure and push out the excess liquid over the process time. The longer it sits the more tart your nut cheese will be, so feel free to give it a little taste along the way. I like to let it sit for a couple of days.  

Next week I’ll be sharing my Watermelon & Fermented Goat Cheese Summer Salad, so be sure to check back for a fun way to use your new cheese-making skills. And you can always let me know what you think in the comments below, or snap a picture and tag us! I’d love to see what you create.