Santorini Dreaming

I fancy a summer in Santorini: I arrive by boat and walk up the five hundred and sixty-six ancient stone steps from the port to the town. I wear a wide sun hat and carry a backpack stuffed with books.

I live in a whitewashed cottage with tile floors and a view of the sea. I stop in a nearby café for sticky dark coffee, buy olives and grapes in an outdoor market, and light pencil-slim beeswax tapers planted in a bowl of sand in a tiny stuccoed chapel.

I can all but feel the Mediterranean heat and smell the wild sage. Still, my Aegean island daydream finds me on my Midwestern back patio, where pink geraniums bloom next to a bird bath, and Kentucky Wonders climb over a wire fence. An Iris Murdoch novel waits on a shaded chair while eggplant from the farmers’ market and lamb kebabs from Sugar Valley sizzle on the grill. We’ll have honeyed warm figs with lemon ice for dessert and, to begin our island sojourn at home, a Greek Watermelon Salad.

Watermelon salad is the classic combination of salt and sweet. Colorful, light, cool, it’s irresistibly summer. The next time you have watermelon left after a beach picnic, dice up a segment for a salad.

Greek Watermelon Salad

3 cups seedless watermelon cut in ½ inch cubes (1 pound)

1 cup seedless cucumber cut in small dice (4 oz.)

¼ cup finely chopped red onion or scallions (1 oz.)

½ loose cup sliced fresh mint

1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice

pinch salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta (1 ½ – 2 oz.)

In a large bowl combine the watermelon, cucumber, onion and mint. When ready to serve, drain any accumulated juice, drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil; sprinkle with a little salt, and mix gently. Heap the salad on individual plates or in a serving bowl. Crumble feta over the top.

Serves 4.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at


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