I had a feeling that Memorial Day weekend would deliver. It did in the form of this watermelon salad. Quite simply, you need this in your summer life. I’ve seen watermelon feta salads aplenty but for some reason have never made them. Perhaps too many failed attempts at grilling watermelon “steaks” killed my ambition to bridge the sweet/salty gap with watermelon.
But thanks to Jenny—who not only brought this salad to a party, but also preemptively tracked me down to deliver the recipe because she heard from so many people that I wanted it—here it is! Thank you to Jenny for saving me so much anxiety and sticky kitchen experimentation.
Looking through the notes on the original recipe there are all kinds of variations. While I applaud the will to experiment, for me, if it ain’t broke…After all, it’s only early June. We have all summer to try it with lime juice instead of vinegar, to saute the sliced almonds in a little butter first, or maybe to add some jalapenos or spice. But then again, maybe not. It may be as close to perfection as I can bear.
This recipe does make a ton, so adjust amounts accordingly if that concerns you. A platter of this salad atop arugula looks pretty darned impressive. Made as directed, the watermelon chunks, are big, which seems a little odd. But that also makes it a knife and fork salad, which is somehow more satisfying.
Summer Perfection Watermelon Tomato Feta Salad
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 8 cups 1 1/4-inch chunks seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds)
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom) in assorted colors, cored, cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
- 1 teaspoon (or more) fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, basil, and mint)
- 6 cups fresh arugula leaves or small watercress sprigs
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- Combine melon and tomatoes in large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fleur de sel and toss to blend; let stand 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and herbs to melon mixture. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.
- Toss arugula in medium bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Divide arugula among plates. Top with melon salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds and serve.
Keep the watermelon cold as long as possible before serving, and cut up the watermelon and tomatoes as close to serving time as you can. If you need to cut them up at home, hold off on tossing them with the salt until 15 minutes before serving. This looks beautiful on a platter atop the arugula, or in a big bowl with the arugula tossed right in.