Watermelon, feta, and mint may sound like an odd combination for a salad, but it’s a perfect mix of salty and sweet, accented with fragrant mint. This recipe gets a little extra boost of flavor thanks to the addition of lemon zest and juice, but has otherwise been stripped down of all extraneous ingredients. Since this is such a minimalist recipe, the quality of the watermelon and, more critically, the feta is of utmost importance. If you have options at your supermarket, look for true Greek or Bulgarian sheep’s-milk feta, which tends to be creamier and tangier than domestic cow’s-milk versions. Crumble the feta over the top instead of tossing it together with the rest of the salad to give the dish a more interesting finished texture and flavor.
This recipe makes four servings.
- 3 pounds seedless watermelon (about 1 small or 1/4 large), rind removed, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds/1 kg chunks after rind is discarded)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) juice from 1 lemon, plus zest of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 cup (10 g) roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
- Up to 4 ounces (1 quart) arugula leaves (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces (110 g) feta cheese
- Place watermelon chunks in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and half of zest to bowl with watermelon. Add oil, mint, and arugula (if using) and toss until watermelon is evenly dressed. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. (The cheese will add saltiness, so go light on the salt at this stage.)
- Transfer salad to a wide, shallow bowl or a large plate and spread out evenly. Crumble feta over the top. Sprinkle with remaining lemon zest. Drizzle with more olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.
Cook’s Note: To make this salad a meal, feel free to add other chopped ingredients. Try some fresh arugula leaves or some cubed cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, a few small slivers of black olive, or some thinly sliced chili peppers for heat. You could also add some grilled (and chilled) corn, along with some cilantro chopped together with the mint.
last updated August 17, 2023