You have permission to edit this article.
Turn's watermelon salad is a show stopper
Special Request

Turn's watermelon salad is a show stopper

  • 0
Subscribe for $3 for 3 months

QI was wondering if the chef at Turn Restaurant would divulge the recipe for Watermelon Wedge Salad with Melon Balsamic Glaze. It is so delicious and especially refreshing during these hot days of summer. I’m thinking the balsamic glaze would taste great on vanilla ice cream also, or maybe lime sherbet, which may give it an extra kick! — Mary Hanson, Kirkwood

A • Chef David Kirkland at Turn was more than happy to share the recipe for this colorful, multi-layered salad that builds and reveals its flavors by degrees.

“The recipe came about by happenchance,” he says. “I always wanted to do a watermelon salad. I’d done a lime and mint salad in the past. I thought about watermelon and mint. The garbanzo beans and tahini dressing incorporate good, clean proteins. I added feta because it goes so well with the watermelon.” The result — a colorful multi-layered salad. The presentation for this salad is a showstopper, too.

“We cut the watermelon in a particular way to get a good ‘wedge’ shape on the plate,” he says. The deep green of the spinach plays off the red watermelon very well, as do the toasted pistachios. Thin ribbons of dressing and balsamic glaze add pattern to the plate and the drizzles bring the flavors of the dressing to each bite of the salad.

Turn is now seating customers in its dining room on the weekends for breakfast and lunch, observing social distancing and good service protocols, but Kirkland’s popular curbside options and takeout remain a part of his business model.

“We do meal kits,” he says. “With our catering backgrounds, when COVID started we had already been making kits for some regular customers in the health care business. This is a slightly premade meal kit that changes each week with an entree par-grilled, a salad and a soup for pickup.

“We still do them, but in March and April we were getting 30-plus orders a week. After the restaurant reopened, the number dropped to 15. We post our meal kits on our website and social media and website on Wednesday night with an order deadline of Friday at 3 p.m. Orders are picked up on Saturdays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. curbside, all touchless.”

Kirkland, who is known for his use of seasonal, fresh ingredients, relies on local and regional farmers who know he may have an unusual request when they show up at his door.

“We have a farmer who travels here from the Kansas City area who came in with the most amazing zucchini. I asked him if he had any zucchini blossoms. The next week he drove up with a whole box, but he didn’t know why we wanted them. We stuffed them with cheese, breaded them and fried them for a staff meal. They were delicious.”

Staff meals, either by Kirkland or his chefs, are a tradition at Turn. “Just before the COVID shutdown, I came back from a call to the restaurant and our chef Harmony had made vegetarian pizzas for everyone, using our warmer with hot water to proof the dough.”

Kirkland applauded her delicious innovation. Talking about new recipes is an open conversation with his staff, but Kirkland usually tries new dishes on his family first. “They’re my guinea pigs,” he says. “We’re not all vegetarians,” he says, “we’re pescatarians. We eat fish, but not too much red meat.”

One red meat dish returned this summer. Turn posted photos of the Tortilla Burger on Instagram. “We grill the burger, poblanos, onions, then wrap it all in a tortilla and griddle it. The feedback ‘OMG it’s back!’ I didn’t know people even missed it,” Kirkland says.

This summer, Kirkland noticed that first-time customers are on the uptick in the wake of calls to patronize Black-owned businesses. “There’s not a lot of Black chefs in town, so when I come out in the restaurant I’m hard to miss — I’m always checking on things,” Kirkland says. “New people often ask me if I’m the owner. A lot of people have been thanking me for being open, and they say they’ll be back.”

Turn by David Kirkland/David Kirkland Catering

3224 Locust Street


37 recipes from Ian Froeb’s top 100 restaurants in St. Louis


* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

When I think of foods to eat during the summer, one flavor rises to the top of my list: pineapple. The aroma of the tropical yellow fruit reminds me of warm days by the pool, or of having my toes buried in the sand and the feeling of sun rays toasting my shoulders. The pineapple plant, which is native to Brazil and Paraguay, is thought to have been transported by Indigenous people throughout ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Blues News

Breaking News

Cardinals News

Daily 6

National Breaking News