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