Algonquin at Home: Tomato and Watermelon Salad from Seasoned in the South

It’s a sad fact that I cannot be left alone in a room with a ripe watermelon. It’s too much for me. Ever since childhood, I’ve suffered from a rare and dangerous disease called CWED (Compulsive Watermelon Eating Disorder). One time I consumed an entire watermelon in one sitting and it nearly killed me.

I can also put away some tomatoes, especially in the summer. Especially if they’re from my grandpa’s garden. When I saw the recipe for Tomato and Watermelon Salad, it was all I could do not to eat the book.

Bill Smith, chef extraordinaire and owner of the legendary Chapel Hill restaurant Crook’s Corner, has a genius for combining things that ordinary mortals would never think to combine–honeysuckle sorbet, peach and pepper soup, figs and ham. Just flipping through his cookbook, Seasoned in the South, is a mouth-watering experience. Word of warning: don’t pick it up unless you’re within range of a kitchen. You will be immediately inspired to whip up something delicious.

We took the below dish to a family reunion on July 4th. It was a smashing success.  I’m already cooking up an excuse to make it again.

— Jordan Castelloe, Blog Intern (w/photos by May Castelloe)


Tomato and Watermelon Salad from Bill Smith’s Seasoned in the South


Serves 4-6

5 cups ripe, bite-sized watermelon chunks, seeded as best you can, but don’t go crazy

1 1/2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, finely chunked

3 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt*

1 small red onion, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup good, strong-flavored extra virgin olive oil

Toss the melon and tomatoes with sugar and salt. Let sit for 15 minutes. Then fold in the onions, vinegar, and oil. Serve very cold.

Aunt Kiran’s Tip: If you’re working with raw onions, let them sit in a bowl with three tablespoons of salt while you get everything else ready. It takes some of the kick out and prevents onion breath. (Don’t forget to rinse them, though.)


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