resuming life, and a recipe: watermelon and arugula salad with basil vinaigrette

The past two weeks have been a blur, filled with hours and hours spent On Call. Fifteen days, 24 hours per day, which turns out to be 350 hours. Granted, my evenings – and three out of four weekend afternoons –  were spent at home, with Sam and the kids. Most nights I was not awakened by phone calls, only some nights.

I would love to say that being On Call doesn’t stress me out, but to say that would be telling a lie. While my work-life balance is always a struggle, during these stretches of On-Call time, the balance leans heavily in favor of work. It is my nature to take home my worries about patients, about giving bad news, about difficult work situations. I dream about my patients, my clinic (which gets neglected while I’m in the hospital)…or that I’m back in college and it’s exam day and, not only have I forgotten to attend class all semester, but I’m also not wearing pants or shoes.

watermelon and arugula salad with basil vinaigrette | the merry gourmet

For two weeks, I’ve neglected cooking regular meals. I baked a key lime pie last weekend, and it was a big disappointment. The pie didn’t set up the way I wanted, and the filling was too tart. I forgot to mail Father’s Day cards. My family has consumed entirely too much take-out food. I’m still paying for my daughter’s gymnastics lessons that I meant to cancel two weeks ago, and I’ve neglected to sign her up for the swim team like I promised her I would.

Despite all of my complaining, I know that I have nothing valid to complain about. I left the Cancer Hospital each of those 15 days feeling blessed. Exhausted, yes, but mostly I felt fortunate. My family is healthy and happy and whole – and for these things I am grateful.

So, it is time to get back on track. Back to writing regularly. Back to this blog and posting here in this space, my happy space. Back to cooking good meals for my family, back to baking up cakes and cookies simply for the therapy of baking. Back to the gym, even.

This sweet little salad is one of the few kitchen successes that I had during one of the past few Saturdays. It was inspired by a watermelon salad at our local pizza place, the restaurant that’s been feeding us quite well while I’ve been too busy to cook. The salad is a breeze to throw together, and it’s filled with contrasting tastes that make the salad interesting and addictive.

So, thank you for waiting patiently for me while I was away. I’m here. I’m well. And I missed you.

watermelon and arugula salad with basil vinaigrette | the merry gourmet


Yield: 6 servings.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Peppery arugula is a great contrast to the sweetness of watermelon and saltiness of the feta. Use a blender for the vinaigrette and your life is all that much easier.


Basil Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4-5 large fresh basil leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces baby arugula
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3 cups cubed watermelon
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese


Make basil vinaigrette: Combine vinegar, mustard, basil leaves, and olive oil in blender and puree until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered tightly, for up to one week.

Assemble salad: Toss arugula and cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, reserving some vinaigrette for drizzling. Carefully toss in watermelon cubes and sprinkle with feta prior to serving. Drizzle with the extra vinaigrette if more dressing is needed.

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9 Responses to “resuming life, and a recipe: watermelon and arugula salad with basil vinaigrette”

  1. 1
    Macaroni Mama — June 18, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    We’ve missed you as well. Welcome back!

  2. 2
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — June 18, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    MJ what a whirlwind ! You know we are always here for you waiting patiently whenever you are ready to post. xo

  3. 3
    jenn s — June 18, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    You crack me up! I thought I was the only person alive who has the dream about not going to class all semester and showing up unprepared for the final (sometimes in my underwear!) I need dream analysis because I have that dream all the time!! I know you must be as grateful for delicious, sweet watermelon as I am. Isn’t it great? On the key lime subject, I made a key lime pound cake with key lime glaze a few weeks ago and it was divine. Give that pie another try. If anyone can get it right, you can. 🙂

  4. 4
    Kathryn — June 19, 2012 @ 4:32 am

    I don’t know how you do it but I’m sure that it’s incredibly rewarding and I know that your patients are lucky to have you there.

  5. 5
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — June 19, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    I can’t imagine having that kind of workload, two small children, a husband, a home, and a blog. Wow. That’s pretty darned incredible, MJ.

    Glad you’re finished with on call for now and are back to share more writing and recipes with us.

  6. 6
    Paula — June 19, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    If I had to keep the schedule you do, forgetting to send cards or cancel lessons would be the very least I’d forget. I can’t imagine your workload, nor keeping the hours you must and these on call periods must be brutal. All I can say is that I admire you for being present for your patients when you are with them and for your family when you are together. This salad looks very refreshing. Everyone is very blessed to have you in their lives, if only for moments at a time.

  7. 7
    myfudo — June 21, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    At times that you are away, we know you are doing something worthwhile. Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes…Love the colors of this salad!

  8. 8
    Riley — June 21, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    Wow, I don’t blame you for having pie for dinner! This salad looks gorgeous!

  9. 9
    Jenny @ BAKE — June 22, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    This salad looks divine! I don’t know how you work so much it sounds so stressful!

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