Fresh mint and red onion brighten this summertime starter
Summer is here in our part of the world, and that means watermelon. It’s wonderful morning, noon, or night.
It works in salads, too. Like this one – where watermelon combines with salty feta cheese and peppery arugula greens (not to mention fresh mint and red onion).
A watermelon starter that’s super tasty and easy to make? That says “summer” to us.
Recipe: Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad
This recipe is quite similar to our Strawberry, Spinach, and Feta Salad. Both make wonderful warm-weather starters.
Watermelon pairs well with salt (in fact, some people salt their watermelon as they eat it). So salty feta cheese is perfect in this salad. But you could probably substitute black olives, especially if you want a vegan dish.
Total prep time for this salad is about 15 minutes. It works best if you wash the arugula and cut up the watermelon an hour or two ahead of time, then let them chill in the fridge. Assembling the salad takes about 5 minutes.
This recipe serves 4 as a first course.
- 4 ounces of arugula
- ~2 pounds of watermelon, preferably seedless – enough for about 6 cups when cubed
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ~½ teaspoon kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- ~8 grinds of black pepper (to taste)
- 1 small red onion (or half a large one)
- ~4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese (or more to taste)
- ½ to 1 cup mint leaves (to taste)
- Start the prep work an hour or two before assembling the salad: Wash and dry the arugula, then wrap it in a kitchen towel. Refrigerate the arugula until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
- Cut the rind off the watermelon, then cut the melon into cubes of about an inch. Place the watermelon pieces in an airtight container and refrigerate.
- When you’re ready to assemble the salad, start by making the dressing: Add the olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper to a small lidded container. Shake to combine the ingredients and emulsify the dressing. Set aside.
- Peel the red onion, cut it in half, then cut each half into thin slices. Set aside.
- Crumble the feta cheese into small pieces. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the mint leaves, then chop them roughly (you may want to reserve some whole mint leaves for garnish).
- Assemble the salad: Place the arugula in a mixing bowl. Add about half the dressing, then toss until the arugula is well coated. Plate the arugula, dividing it among the serving plates.
- Add the watermelon pieces and onion slices to the mixing bowl. Toss with the remainder of the dressing. Spoon the watermelon and onion over the arugula, dividing it among the serving plates.
- Sprinkle some crumbled feta and chopped mint over each plate. Garnish with whole mint leaves, if desired. Serve and enjoy.
- We like to use seedless watermelon in this dish because it makes for easier eating.
- We usually figure on about 1½ cups of cubed watermelon per serving, but use more or less to taste.
- Indeed, this is a recipe where you can play fast and loose with most of the ingredient quantities.
- We like the looks and flavor of red onion, but you could substitute a sweet Vidalia onion if you prefer. Or maybe a couple of shallots.
- Mint can discolor once it’s been cut, so we chop it right before serving. You can also tear mint into pieces rather than chopping it (we often do this).
- BTW, mint goes wonderfully with watermelon and feta, so you may want to use more than we suggest.
- If you want a spicier salad, you could add a few dashes of hot sauce to the dressing.
- Want a sweeter dressing? Just add a bit of honey or sugar to the mix.
- Don’t have lemons on hand? Just substitute red or white wine vinegar for the lemon juice.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- Looking for additional garnish options? You may want to try sprinkling on some lemon zest.
“Feta-compli,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “You’ve achieved salad stardom.”
“Aw, shucks,” I said. “I’m just arugula guy.”
“Well, you’ve minted a winner in this case,” said Mrs K R.
“Stop, you’re bringing tears to my eyes,” I said. “Or maybe that’s just the red onion.”
“OK, let’s just agree that this salad is definitely worth its salt,” said Mrs K R.
True. You might say it’s one in a melon.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Strawberry, Spinach, and Feta Salad
Roast Strawberry Salad
Asparagus and Spinach Salad
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Mint
Beet and Red Onion Salad
Cucumber and Smoked-Salmon Salad with Feta
Hot-Buttered Butter Lettuce Salad
Fennel, Orange, and Arugula Salad
White Bean and Tuna Salad
Or check out the index for more
I love watermelon and feta together and I imagine the arugula adds a nice flavor to the salad. YUM!
Hi Pam, isn't watermelon and feta a dynamite flavor combo? Love it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Great idea for summer. My lunch salad has tomatoes and mint and I think I'll go add some soft white cheese to it! I interchange regular goat cheese with feta in recipes -- feta theoretically is sheep cheese, but not always.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, goat cheese would be excellent in this. Tomatoes and mint are a great combo, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Just the salad for this season! we have some beautifully sweet watermelons coming into the market right now
Hi Ansh, love watermelon season! And it's wonderful in salads like this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have all the components of this right now. Might be a weekend lunch for us!
Hi Anne, and it'd be a good lunch. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Mmmmmmmm. I can see using a really green ripe olive oil on this salad. It's beautiful and satisfying.
Hi Mimi, olives really do sound like a great idea with this dish, don't they? Thanks for the comment.
It's a scorcher outside today and this would really hit the spot. Cooling watermelon, spicy arugula and funky feta all for one delicious bite. Wishing you a super week ahead.
I just made a watermelon, cucumber and feta salad. I love this one with arugula. Prefer it to lettuce. Next WM salad :-D
Hi Bobbi, gotten really hot here too. Which is why we're making this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, cucumber is also great in this salad! So many fun variations on a basic theme. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Absolutely love this and make it very similarly in season. We are in mid-winter and 'shivering' from cold tho' those in the Northern hemisphere may not take our complaints re 8C > 20C days as being freezing too seriously :) ! Actually must look at my next fruit shop - with Australia's size watermelons may be available from somewhere :) !
Hi Eha, this is such a classic dish, isn't it? And such a versatile recipe -- it's easy to vary the ingredients to taste (or availability!). Thanks for the comment.
Feta is my favorite cheese. I've never paired it with watermelon but I totally see how that could work--I'm definitely trying this!
Hi Kelsie, feta is sensational with watermelon. :-) Really nice pairing! Thanks for the comment.
Feta and watermelon is the best combo! I need to make this for the 4th!
Salty feta and sweet juicy watermelon..one of my favourite summer combo! The salad looks terrific!
I should finelly try this feta and watermelon combo, looks so good!:)
I'm such a fan of watermelon salads and love the saltiness that feta brings. I only have two watermelon salad recipes that I use on a regular basis. Thanks for a new recipe to try. Happy Summer to you John.
Hi Ashley, this is a great dish for the 4th! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, feta and watermelon are SO terrific together! Neat combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, it is, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, you have a taste delight in store for you. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, watermelon is really good in salads, isn't it? Love it all by itself, of course, but it really shines in salads. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I seen so many recipe using watermelon in salad, but never had a chance to try it...now seeing your salad I will definitely add to my list...looks so refreshing and so beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration John...have a great rest of the week!
Hi Juliana, we really like this salad! Bet you will too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So refreshing! What a fabulous summer salad. California melons are now in the market, what a scrumptious way to enjoy the season.
Hi Deb, watermelon is one of our favorite summer fruits. Well, in addition to berries and stone fruits. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Honestly, your puns are so much fun! You guys are so clever…
This salad is so refreshing, and – to me – the epitome me of summer!
Hi David, glad you enjoy the puns! We both contribute. In fact, those conversations are pretty similar to the way we often talk to each other. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks fantastic John, I have all the ingredients. I have to make it.
Hi Gerlinde, you DO have to make this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
My SIL would go NUTSSSSSSS for this salad! NUTS - she is the biggest watermelon fan I know!
Now this is what I call summer on a plate!
Hi GiGi, you OWE it to your SIL to send her this recipe. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Frank, it really IS summer on a plate! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I absolutely love this salad. It's actually my favorite summer salad. I've never added the arugula, so I can't wait to give it a try. One more depth of flavor never hurts. :) Beautiful salad John!
Hi MJ, we sometimes make this salad without the arugula (we use a LOT more mint in that case!), but we like the flavor of arugula in this. Thanks for the comment.
Mellon of a salad it is and one we'll try very soon. We love seedless watermelon chunks in our greek salad, so a standalone melon salad sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Ron, we really need to try watermelon in a Greek salad! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Salty, sweet, juicy and refreshing -- you can't beat this classic, especially on a warm summer day.
Hi Carolyn, yup. And it's really warm here today -- time to have this dish again. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I like the addition of arugula - a nice peppery bite - just what this combo needs.
Hi Judy, arugula is really nice in this dish! Great combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've been buying baby seedless watermelons like they're going out of style. So sweet and juicy. Your salad will be made over here for sure! Love it. ~Valentina
Hi Valentina, we're just entering prime watermelon season. Lucky us! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a perfect summer salad - refreshing and delicious!
Hi Amy, it's good. We're having it again this weekend! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I had enjoyed a similar salad a few days back at a restaurant and loved it. I don't know what was holding me back from trying it! (It had a balsamic vinaigrette) Thanks for the recipe, would love to try it.
Hi Taruna, balsamic would be excellent in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds like summer! Perfectly ripe watermelon with a good cheese and summer herbs .... as I put the heater on because it is 12C, but it reminds me that summer will return again and I am filing your amazing salad recipe until then, thanks John :D
Beautiful summery colours and flavours here, I could easily see this salad appearing many times on my table in the coming months.
Hi Merryn, it'll soon be summer there! And then you can have this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, love this combo of flavors! SO good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, such and amazing combination! Love the feta with the watermelon and the mint goes so perfectly with them both. A great summer salad!
Hi Kelly, isn't this nice? We always have this salad several times each summer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
i thought i'd commented here but i can't see it if so:) i love watermelon with fetta; they are a great match. i often make nigella's recipe for watermelon salad with the black olives and herbs, and red onions marinated in lime juice. Oh yum! I'm not a huge fan of rocket (arugula) unless it is really fresh baby leaves but i can see it would add a wondrous flavour. cheers sherry
Hi Sherry, Blogger has an unfortunate habit of sometimes eating comments. :-( Wish I knew a workaround, but I don't, alas. Anyway, we sometimes substitute spinach or diced cucumbers for the arugula (rocket) in this dish. The cukes are particularly nice. Thanks for the comment (and thanks for persisting in making your comment!).
I love this, at the moment I am adding watermelon to everything. Its so refreshing and tasty and this salad is perfect.
Hi Emma, we've been loving watermelon this year! And it's terrific in this salad. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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