Looking for a light but lively dish to open your next dinner party? Melon is here to help.
Watermelon is at peak season in our part of the world. So we give it the starring role in this company-worthy first course.
What a cool way to start the evening.
Recipe: Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad
The flavors in this dish are simple and direct – because summer. This recipe is all about the three primary ingredients, tossed in vinaigrette. And it won’t fill you up, so it makes for an ideal hot-weather starter or side.
If you want a heftier dish (although still on the light side), try our Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad. It’s similar to this one, but includes salad greens and red onion.
Total prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes. Assembly takes maybe 5 minutes.
This recipe yields 4 servings.
For the vinaigrette:
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ~½ teaspoon kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- ~8 grinds of black pepper (to taste)
For the salad:
- ~2 pounds watermelon, preferably seedless (about 6 cups once the rind is removed)
- ~½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (chop them just before using; see Notes)
- ~4 ounces feta cheese, cut into small dice (preferably creamy sheep’s milk feta; see Notes)
- First make the vinaigrette: Place all the ingredients in a small, lidded container. Shake vigorously to combine. Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside until ready to make the salad (you can prepare the vinaigrette hours ahead and store it in the refrigerator; remove it about an hour before making the salad).
- When you’re ready to make the salad: Cut the rind off the watermelon. Cut the pink watermelon flesh into dice of about an inch. Place in a large bowl.
- Add the chopped mint leaves and toss roughly. Add the vinaigrette (from Step 1; if it’s been resting, shake it again before adding it to the watermelon). Toss thoroughly.
- Plate the salad. Sprinkle diced feta over the top of each plate. Add additional mint sprigs for garnish, if desired, and serve.
- We often prep the watermelon several hours before we want to serve the salad. Just place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Remove the watermelon about an hour before you’re ready to serve (this salad tastes OK chilled, but it’s better at room temperature, we think).
- We usually serve 1½ cups of cubed watermelon per person, but adjust to your own taste and needs.
- Mint begins to discolor shortly after being cut, so chop it right before using. We often tear the mint leaves rather than chop them.
- Mint is terrific with both watermelon and feta, so you may want to use more than we suggest.
- It’s easy to grow mint in a pot. Or in your garden – although be warned that it spreads like a weed.
- We sometimes add a few dashes of a hot sauce to the vinaigrette when we want extra tang.
- We also sometimes zest the lemon before squeezing the juice, then add the zest to the vinaigrette.
- If you prefer a sweeter dressing, just add a bit of honey to the vinaigrette.
- Feta cheese adds a lot of flavor and character to this dish. Avoid, if you can, those containers of dry, crumbled feta – they’re flavor challenged. We prefer to buy blocks of feta, then cut them into small dice (of about ¼ inch or so; you can also grate the feta). The flavor is so much brighter.
- Sheep’s milk feta is terrific, and it’s ideal for this dish. Although cow’s milk feta is a bit more common in the US, most good cheese mongers also stock the sheep’s milk variety.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Love the savory side of watermelon,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Feta and mint add so much interest.”
“Yup,” I said. “This salad is melon-dramatic.”
“The watermelon may be seedless, but that joke was the pits,” said Mrs K R.
“Thought it would fill you with amuse-mint,” I said.
“Please, no more,” said Mrs K R. “Don’t want to lose my rind.”
Guess my work here is done. Feta accompli, you might say.
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This will be the perfect light supper meal for these hot, sultry nights we have been having.
Hi Anne, it's been really hot and sultry here. So watermelon to the rescue! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've read variations on this recipe on many food sites and blogs this summer. Such a classic! That and caprese salad, where the cheese-fresh produce item-fresh herb combo is different but the appeal is similar.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, this is one of those dishes that we make several times each summer. And each time we make it, it's a bit different. But we keep coming back to this version -- our favorite. Thanks for the comment.
So delicious. Perfect for these HOT summer days lately. I recently made a watermelon and feta salad and we loved how refreshing it was.
Hi Pam, watermelon salads really are one of the more refreshing summer salads, aren't they? :-) Thanks for the comment.
I had not thought about adding feta to watermelon – great idea as I really like feta, but the Greek kind made from sheep. I usually make jams in summer and was thinking about making watermelon jam – what do you think? I never tried tasting one, but who knows? The recipe said to add some rose water to enhance the flavor.
I love this salad but I don’t put olive oil in the dressing. My husband doesn’t like it but I will try a small amount with oil the next time I make this. It’s a wonderful refreshing salad .
Hi Vagabonde, we've never made watermelon jam, either, but like the idea. But some warm spices like allspice or cloves would be interesting, too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gerlinde, you could probably use either a more neutral oil or leave oil out altogether, and increase the amount of lemon juice. But we do like olive oil, and it works with watermelon. :-) Thanks for the comment.
One of the BEST summer salads, John.
Hi Angie, it really is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Terrific summer salad. I love this combination.
Hi Dahn, it really is a great combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a nice combination of flavours and texture, Love this salad
As much as I LOVE cheese, this is one case where the salad is so good I don’t even need the feta. Of course, it’s great with the cheese as well. Love your photos.
Hi Raymund, we really like this too! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mimi, we actually do sometimes skip the cheese, but always miss it when we do. Its salty flavor is great with the watermelon! Thanks for the comment.
Truly a refreshing, delicious combination of ingredients! Summer at its best!!
Hi Liz, very cooling, too, which sounds mighty appealing this summer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This really is summer on a plate! What a nice, different way to enjoy watermelon. May give it a go!
Hi Frank, this is really is so summery! We had it again last night -- terrific dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a refreshing salad. I can't get enough watermelon these days.
Hi Jeff, we're getting local watermelon at the moment which is beyond excellent. :-) Thanks for the comment.
One of my favourite summer salads (Perhaps 70% of my August meals are melons and feta!) Always so refreshing and versatile.
Hi Ben, we eat a ton of melons -- and feta, too! -- at this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love watermelon season and what a super creative way to use it!
I always love watermelon in the summer. This is the perfect recipe to enjoy during the summer months.
Hi Dawn, we love it too! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, isn't this a fun salad? SO good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The mint and the watermelon sound refreshing especially in this really hot weather we have been having. I grow mint and I love it on everything! Your salad looks pretty and the flavors sound wonderful.
Hi Judee, we have a lot of mint. A LOT -- it kind of takes over. :-) So we use it all the time. :-) Thanks for the comment.
When it is too gosh darn hot outside to cook- you just want to do a face plant in your deliciously refreshing watermelon and feta salad. We could eat this everyday. Love you simple dressing too.
Hi Bobbi, we could eat it every single day too! Thanks for the comment.
One of summer's most refreshing treats! I'll need to add mint to mine the next time. Great idea, thanks!
Hi Roz, mint is great with both watermelon and feta! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have been watermelon obsessed this summer. I practically eat an entire mini melon all at once when they're sweet. I love the melon with the saltiness of the feta and the brightness of the mint. Beautiful! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Valentina, we're obsessed, too! We are eating a watermelon a week at the moment. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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