CHOPPED GREEK SALAD WITH CHERRIES, WATERMELON, AND FRESH OVEN TOASTED ZA’ATAR | serves 4
50 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons finely ground sumac
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups diced watermelon, 1/2- to-3/4 inch dice
2 cups diced persian cucumbers, 1/2- to-3/4 inch dice
3 cups diced heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, 1/2- to-3/4 inch dice
2 cups bing cherries, pitted and halved lengthwise
Juice of 1 lemon
6 ounces mild + creamy feta, in one hunk
Finely chopped cilantro for sprinkling
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Place 40 thyme sprigs on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes at 300ºF until dry. Slide the leaves off both the dry and remaining fresh sprigs and finely chop into a loosely ground mixture. Transfer to a small bowl, add the toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and sea salt and set aside.
Lightly toss together all of the diced ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt to taste. To assemble, place the feta on a serving plate and transfer the salad mixture to setup alongside the cheese. To serve, garnish the salad with fresh herbs, drizzle with lots of olive oil, and top with a heavy layer of zaatar.
The salad should be sharp and sweet. If not serving immediately, drain some of the liquid off later. Adjust the seasoning again afterward.