Watermelon and feta is a classic combination. This version is inspired by a salad my friend Jill brought to a recent gathering. I’ve folded in some arugula but the salad is delicious without it.
This is a salad that should be assembled at the last minute and served immediately — when it sits for too long, the herbs and arugula tire. You can, however, prep things ahead of time: cube the watermelon, pick the herbs, slice the feta. While this salad is best served immediately, I do enjoy leftovers the next day … the salad just doesn’t look as pretty, and the herbs lose their vibrancy.
Balsamic: You can buy aged balsamic vinegar that’s syrupy or you can simmer balsamic vinegar until it’s reduced by half its volume. Simply simmer 1/4 cup vinegar in a small saucepan until it is thick and syrupy. Keep a close watch the entire time, and transfer the balsamic to a small bowl as soon as it starts to thicken because it will continue to reduce as it sits. This will give you 1 to 2 tablespoons of syrupy balsamic vinegar.
Feta: I love the Maplebrook Farms Feta from Vermont, but when I can’t get that, I buy any feta in brine. I prefer slicing it into thin slabs, but crumble it if you wish.
- 1 watermelon, no larger than 9 lbs., or 3 quarts cubed watermelon
- flaky sea salt or kosher salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 3 tablespoons aged balsamic, see notes above
- 1/4 cup packed mint leaves
- 1/4 cup packed basil leaves
- 7 to 8 ounces feta, see notes above
- 4 ounces arugula
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Peel and cube the watermelon: Slice off each end of the watermelon, then stand it upright. Run a knife down the sides to remove the rind. Slice the flesh into 3/4-inch (roughly) slabs, then stack the slabs and slice into 3/4-inch strips and then 3/4-inch cubes. Transfer 3 quarts of the cubes to a large bowl. Store the remaining watermelon in the fridge.
- Place the cubes in a large bowl. Season with a large pinch of sea salt. Add 2 tablespoons each olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Toss gently to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes. The watermelon will begin releasing juices. You may find you have enough dressing with the 2 tablespoons each olive oil and balsamic. Taste a cube. If it needs more salt, olive oil, or balsamic add to taste.
- Gather your herbs. Slice the feta. Add to the bowl and toss to combine. Finally, fold in the arugula. Crack pepper over the top if you wish. Serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Toss
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: watermelon, feta, mint, basil, balsamic, olive oil, sea salt