Bon Bini! Welcome To Aruba

There are plenty of restaurants in Aruba but none as laid-back and romantic as Passions on the Beach. Tables are set up 25 feet from the ocean literally on the beach so you can enjoy the sunset with your feet in the sand. Another plus, it is located away from the high-rise madness so no crowds to deal with. I was in a trance from the waves and the breeze and said “sure” when offered the “signature” cocktail, it was out of the 80s but made me laugh and just added to the fun.

Requisite Beach Cocktail

I’d like to say the meal was amazing but there was only one really great standout which turned out to be a very simple dish. The Watermelon Salad. The sweetness of the watermelon mixed with the saltines of the feta is always a beautiful thing but the addition of the chili dressing made this dish memorable. It’s also really easy to recreate which I have multiple times since returning from the One Happy Island.

Almost everyone that was dining on the beach was celebrating a birthday or anniversary or seemed to be on their honeymoon or with someone they loved so it didn’t matter that the food wasn’t the main attraction. Just being there was the point…oh and the view…

Here is a recipe I found that is a good reference to make your own beach watermelon salad creation courtesy of Miri Leigh. You should really make it while we still have summer.  Ban come! Let’s eat! 

10 sprigs thyme
1 serrano chili
1 small shallot
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 oz fresh baby spinach, rinsed and dried
3 lbs seedless watermelon
4 oz crumbled feta

Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs by gripping each sprig with your thumb and forefinger near one end and, with your other hand, pulling the sprig away from you so that your thumb and finger run along the stem opposite to the direction that the leaves grow.  Set aside half of the leaves to use as garnish.  Place the remaining leaves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade along with the serrano chili (remove some or all of the seeds for less heat), shallot, lime juice and zest, olive oil, canola oil, vinegar, and salt.  Pulse a few times until the chili and shallot are chopped, then process until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the dressing until it is fully coated, reserving 1/4 cup of the dressing for the last step.  Arrange the dressed spinach in equal quantities among four plates.  Slice the watermelon as thinly as possible and arrange over the spinach.  Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the watermelon and garnish with the remaining thyme leaves.  Drizzle the remaining dressing over the feta, about 1 tablespoon per plate.  Serve immediately.

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