Watermelon and feta cheese make a great pairing of a salad for summer cook-outs and spring afternoons. Mark Twain once wrote/tweeted, “When one has tasted watermelon he knows what angels eat.” I totally disagree with his quote. Of course watermelon is fun to eat, refreshing, and an essential & integral piece of any outdoor picnic or cookout. Yet I find it so boring. Doctoring up watermelon in a salad with feta cheese, breathes salty and satisying life to any plate. It is a must-have Greek-inspired side salad for any grill-out or sunny afternoon.
Watermelon and feta cheese salad recipe
A friend introduced me to the watermelon and feta cheese salad combination a couple of summers ago. I still thank him to this day, because it is a go-to salad I love to make for any outdoor summertime occasion. While I prefer my version of this recipe, here is another good one from Pepin. The watermelon and feta cheese salad works so well with grilled seafood/poultry, fried foods, and as a starter.
What I like most about the salad is the incredible diversity of flavors and feels. The crisp and watery watermelon paired with the salty, slightly sour & tangy feta cheese is in itself a lively marriage. The crumbled feta gives way to the watermelon cubes and continues to break down and cover the entire salad in mini creamy crumbles of rich delicious feta. And be sure to choose a type of feta cheese that you like – there are varieties from around the world, with different composition of sheep/goat or cow milk, in or not in brine, etc. Here’s a quick reference and feta summary for you here. It you love feta, than this salad could be angelic to you.
From here, the salad takes a course of adventure. Here are the other ingredients I like to toss into my cubed watermelon and feta salad. These additional ingredients can all be tossed into the salad at quantities and tastes that you prefer. It is like Subway, have it your way.
- Toasted pine nuts (having them toasted brings a smokey element to the salad, and of course a solid snappy crunch)
- Basil (I prefer basil in this salad)
- Sliced thinly or minced red onion
- Minced jalapenos/serano chilies (what’s life without a kick?)
- Lime juice (for acid and to wake up the salad)
- Excellent extra virgin olive oil
- A touch of extra acid if needed (like white wine or sherry or balsamic vinegar)
Variations of the watermelon and feta cheese salad recipe
Like any salad or recipe, there are many pieces to it that can be replaced or swapped that will dramatically change the taste and feel of this versatile summer salad. Here are some elements of customization:
- Herbage: basil or mint or parsley
- Crunch: pine nuts or almonds or pistachios or other nuts
- Cheese: cow’s milk feta or goat’s milk feta or combo sheep + goat
- Heat: jalapenos/serranos or red pepper flakes or harissa or Tabasco or full chilies
- Spices: cayenne or paprika or cumin or fennel salt
- How Mediterranean? : add olives? add tomatoes? add capers? add anchovies?
- Acid: lime juice or lime zest or sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
The combos are pretty open. Just never make this into a salad salad by adding greens like lettuce or arugula. Gross. I think that kills the fun and spirit of eating a pure watermelon and feta cheese salad. Now we are approaching something divine.