4 as a light lunch
- 12 large prawns or 16 smaller ones, whole and with shell on
- ½ small watermelon (or 2 thick slices of a large watermelon)
- 1 red chilli, sliced into rings
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 250g sheep’s feta
- 1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked, half of them chopped, the rest left whole
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more for brushing on the watermelon
- 1 tsp roughly crushed black pepper
To prepare the prawns, use a sharp serrated knife to score a slit down the back shell of each one, cutting through the flesh to reveal the digestive string. Remove it with the tip of the knife. Put the cleaned prawns in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to cook (once you start, you will only need 15 mins to get this dish to the table). Cut the watermelon into eight large wedges, keeping the skin on. Mix the chilli slices with the vinegar and ½ tsp salt, and set aside while you build your barbecue to a high heat with lovely glowing embers.
Start by grilling the watermelon – simply brush the pieces with some olive oil and lay them flat on the hottest part of the grill for about 1-2 mins each side. You want to form black grid marks on the flesh, as this will intensify the flavour and sweeten the fruit. Remove the melon to a side platter, then grill the prawns for 3 minutes on each side (2 mins for smaller ones) or until they turn bright pink.
Add the prawns to the watermelon, crumble the feta over them, and scatter with the whole picked mint leaves. Just before serving, stir the olive oil, black pepper and chopped mint into the marinating chilli and drizzle all over the platter. Serve immediately with a finger bowl and another bowl for shells.
To cook without a barbecue, use a lightly oiled, preheated griddle pan on your stove and cook just as you would on the fire.
Recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant (Pavilion Books)
Image: Patricia Niven
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