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In the Kitchen With: Erin Gleeson’s Quick Side Dishes

by Kristina Gill

Although we did a roundup last week of great ideas for picnic food to welcome the warm weather, I was so seduced by the simplicity of this week’s recipes for watermelon salad and guacamole deviled eggs, that I thought I’d include them as a sort of postscript to last week’s post. The author of these recipes, Erin Gleeson, is an illustrator and photographer, and author of the blog The Forest Feast. Her book of the same name recently came out, and these two recipes appear in her book. Erin is no stranger to the food and drink columns here. Her beer float with chocolate ice cream was a hit, as well as her persimmon squash salad. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend (USA), and I hope some of these recipes make it into your celebrations! –Kristina

About Erin: Photographer and artist Erin Gleeson lives in an idyllic cabin near San Francisco, California, where she paints beautiful watercolors, cooks from her CSA box and writes her beloved food blog, The Forest Feast, and a weekly “Delish Dish” column for Better Homes and Gardens. She has garnered attention from Design*Sponge, Food52, Bon Appétit and Saveur.


Click through for the full recipe after the jump!


Watermelon Salad

Lay a circular slab of watermelon on each plate (1 inch thick, rind removed). Top each slice with 3-5 slices of fresh mozzarella and one tablespoon each of chopped mint, basil, almonds and walnuts. Dress with olive oil and coarse salt.  One small slice serves one, one large slice serves two to three people.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Halve five peeled hard-boiled eggs and remove their yolks. Combine two of the yolks (discard the others) with one ripe avocado, plus one tablespoon mayonnaise, one teaspoon spicy mustard, one half teaspoon garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash it all together and spoon the mixture back into the egg whites. Garnish with red pepper flakes.



Why Erin loves these recipes:  I love the watermelon salad because of its unique presentation. A big round slab of watermelon acts as the base, and the salad is built on top of it. Perhaps because I studied sculpture in college, I often think about my dishes that way, taking into consideration how the shapes, colors and textures fit together. I chose mozzarella over the usual feta not only because I love the flavors together, but because I like how the round slices of cheese look when fanned out over the circular slice of watermelon. The basil and mint add color and flavor depth, and the nuts add a much needed crunch!  The guacamole deviled eggs are one of my go-to appetizers when entertaining because they are a fun twist on the old classic. With deviled eggs and a cocktail in hand, I feel like I’m living in the 1950s for a minute (which I have often dreamt about). The addition of the avocado makes them just a little lighter and creamier. They are easy to make ahead, and always feel a little special to serve. Plus, people love them – I can never seem to make enough!


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  • Both recipes sound fantastic! I especially love the look of the watermelon salad (beautiful!) and the use of avocado and garlic in the deviled eggs. It’s so nice to see so many vegetarian recipes here, as well as discover sources for more, like Erin’s blog/book. Thanks!

  • Instead of saying “discard the others” when referring to the cooked egg yolks, why not suggest saving it for another recipe. I’m sure you didn’t mean to suggest people waste food.

  • “discard” egg yolks???? No, never. There are so many ways that these power houses of nutrition – assuming you have used farm-fresh eggs – can be used. Yolks are not “evil”, and food should never be wasted. Like the recipes though, particularly the melon salad

    • Pam

      No one, especially not Erin, called egg yolks evil. You just don’t need ALL of them for her recipe. You can always reuse them however you like, this is just a specific recipe, not a rule for dealing with egg yolks.


  • hahaha… evil egg yolks! I too thought “discard” sounded a bit harsh, and briefly considered the fate of those poor rejected yolks. It’s ok, they can be re-homed… in my tummy ;D That watermelon salad looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try out variations… double cream sheeps milk feta, maybe??