This summer Jerry, Carver and I went to Yellowstone National Park. It was absolutely stunning, a surprise at every turn. However, when it came to deciding what recipe to pair with this adventure, I have been at a loss. Although the tourist shops have discovered over 843 ways to prepare the humble huckleberry, Yellowstone Park is a gastronomic desert.
What recipe did I have in my arsenal that would capture the essence of this magnificent national treasure? It would have to be slightly bizarre, tasty, refreshing, surprising and makes you want to return to it again and again? Finally I stumbled across this Blueberry Watermelon Salad, another delightful recipe inspired from our friend Ian in Mexico.
Yellowstone National Park: Dangerous Beauty
Before we get into the Watermelon Salad, let me share some of favorite photos of Yellowstone. We were surprised by not only the incredible beauty of the wilderness, but also by the near proximity the bison and elk among the tourists.
There also was definitely an air of danger between constant stories of bears, signs proclaiming the danger of falling through the earth into boiling unground water pockets, and hundreds of steaming geysers making it seem as if the entire state of Wyoming was going to blow at any moment ending life on earth as we know it. Totally my kind of vacation!
Yes, we even picked up a can of bear repellent. Which, by the way, has a 6 step direction “how to use this repellent if faced with an angry bear” procedure on the back of the canister. It even tells you how to account for wind direction. Really? Are you serious?
There’s a bear in my face and I’m going to think about wind direction? After we bought it, I realized the only way I was going to use this thing would be by throwing it at the bear hopefully before I fall into a dead faint. Emphasis on the dead. Luckily we had no need for it and Jerry carried it the whole time. I can run faster than him anyway. I’m joking! really
Truly though, I would go back to Yellowstone every year if I could. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to touch the awe inspiring vistas. The air is so clear and clean it makes the colors more vivid than anywhere I’ve been before. Reflections of the mountains, sky, and trees on the water was unreal.
I finally had to stop taking pictures because everything everywhere was just so awe inducing.
Walking among the geysers was like taking a stroll on a different planet. It was hard to believe the planet wasn’t going to explode at any moment. We talked with one of the rangers about that. He said scientists seem to think it’s due for a devastating super volcanic eruption in another 1500-10,000 years or so. Really glad we were able to narrow that down.
Making the Trip
If you go and I really hope you do, book your stay early and pick a place inside the park. Depending where you stay expect to pay between $159 and $480 a night. The Old Faithful Inn books up over a year in advance, however the other lodges have good availability. Obviously, Old Faithful is a huge draw and the others, aside from Grant’s Village, are a bit more of a drive.
We stayed 3 nights in the Grant Village before we headed south to Jackson. We took one day to drive the Yellowstone lower loop and another day to fish the thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Going at a leisurely pace, we drove the loop in about 8 hours. I would do it again in a heart beat. If we are ever fortunate to go again, I would stay 2 nights in the lower loop, 2 nights in the upper loop and then head down to Jackson and eat myself silly for 3 days. The food is really good in Jackson Hole.
Things not to forget
Make sure you bring mosquito repellent, a good camera, a sweatshirt or jacket, and comfortable walking shoes.
A Refreshing & Unexpected: Blueberry Watermelon Salad
I chose this Blueberry Watermelon Salad for this week’s recipe because in many ways it reminds me of our trip to Yellowstone. In a nutshell, it’s something totally different and I think you’ll really like it.
The crunchy romaine lettuce and watermelon are both refreshing and crisp. The blend of feta cheese, mint, and tomatoes are… surprising… and a little strange (like the hot pools and geysers) but it works; it’s actually really good.
The colors of this salad are gorgeous and the dressing is tangy, a little sweet, and zippy. It differs from the park in 2 crucial ways though. You don’t have to stay on the path and you won’t need any bear spray.
Blueberry Watermelon Salad Rollups
- 3 cups seedless watermelon diced
- 1 head of romaine chopped
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup mint minced
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/2 cup cucumber seeded and diced
- 1 cup toasted pecans chopped (optional)
- 6 rice spring roll wrappers
- Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar the cheaper the better!
- 1/3 cup fresh herbs minced (I like a mix of parsley and thyme)
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Gently wet rice paper disks and lay flat on a clean surface.
Take approximately 2/3 cup of salad and put into the center of the rice disk.
Take the left edge and fold it over the salad, then take the top and bottom edges to the center and continue to roll it to the right. This may take a little practice! Have fun with it and try to keep your rollup tight. 🙂
For the Salad Dressing
Whisk* together all the ingredients except the olive oil.
While continuing to whisk, slowly add the olive oil drop by drop until you've added about 2 tablespoons. Then you can add it in a light stream until you've added it all. This will make an emulsion and your dressing won't separate.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
*If you have a mini food processor or hand emersion blender, these work well too! Blitz everything together but the olive oil. Then slowly add the olive oil last, blending or blitzing the whole time until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If rice paper isn't handy, don't let that stop you. Toss and enjoy this salad the traditional way in a bowl or a plate!