Grilled prawns and watermelon with feta and chilli recipe

Chefs and authors Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich want us barbecuing, and barbecuing well. Why not try this recipe from their new book, Chasing Smoke?

Grilled prawns from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovic Picture: Patricia Niven


(To serve 4 as a light lunch)

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12 large prawns or 16 smaller ones, whole and with shell on

Half a small watermelon (or 2 thick slices of a large watermelon)

1 red chilli, sliced into rings

2tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2tsp salt

250g sheeps’ feta

1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked, half of them chopped, the rest left whole

3tbsp olive oil, plus a little more for brushing on the watermelon

1tsp 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 minutes 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 salt, and set aside while you build your BBQ 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 one to two minutes 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 three minutes on each side (two minutes 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 BBQ: Use a lightly oiled, preheated griddle pan on your stove and cook just as you would on the fire.

Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, is published by Pavilion Books, £26. Photography Patricia Niven.