My fondest and earliest memory of watermelon is my mother beating all our neighbors in a watermelon eating contest. Every summer, the whole neighborhood would get together and as soon as someone brought out the watermelon, the contest began. Basically the rules were as follows: eat the watermelon on your plate as fast as humanly possible. But, the catch was you couldn’t use your hands. First person who finishes wins.
I haven’t participated in one of those contests in about 25 years. But every summer, when I see a fresh juicy watermelon, I think about the simplicity of that time. I think about the picnic table, covered in an old ripped vinyl tablecloth, with all our neighbors crowded on either side covered in watermelon juice. I can see my mother throwing her hands up in the air with exhilaration, with watermelon still in her mouth as she screamed out, I’m done! Life was good.
That’s the beauty about food. It so often brings you to a place of joviality. It has the power to reach back in time, often associated with childhood, that is so delicious — you can’t help but to take another bite. Childhood summers, that’s what watermelon means to me. So, whenever I get the chance to indulge in it, I make sure to go all the way. Once the season officially begins, I always have a place for it in my fridge.
And, sometimes it winds up in my salad and it’s delicious.
This is a pretty simple recipe, so you can pretty much whip it together in a moments notice. And, the best part is that it has ingredients that are likely already sitting in your pantry.
I like using arugula for the base of the salad, but feel free to throw some kale in there if you have it. (I just love a kale salad!)
And, the feta, ohhhh the feta. Can you ever have enough of the stuff? It balances out the sweetness from the watermelon so nicely.
Finally, I add two of the nicest, unexpected surprises in there. Chopped almonds and picked shallots. They’re both the cherry on top!
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- 1 cup of watermelon, cut in cubes
- 2 cups of arugula
- 1/4 cup of mint leaves
- feta cheese
- 1/4 cup of almonds
- balsamic vinegar
Pickle the shallots | Make your dressing
- 2 shallots
- 5 tbsp of white vinegar
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp of paprika
Make your dressing: Slice your shallots in thin rings and add to a small bowl with the rice vinegar and orange juice. Use a whisk to mix together. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Then, add your honey, 5 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp of paprika. Salt and pepper for taste. Whisk together or place in a mason jar and shake well.
Chop your almonds: Add almonds to a food processor and process until you get small pieces. If you don't have a food processor, place almonds in a plastic bag and smash with a meat mallet.
Build your salad: Mix together watermelon, arugula (or lettuce of choice), mint leaves, feta, and ground-up almonds. Add your shallots + dressing. Top with a splash of balsamic vinegar.