Summer Melon Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint

By • June 26, 2011 • 21 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is my riff on the classic pairing of juicy summer melon with feta. I've added cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers as complementary flavors and textures, but what really elevates the salad is the harissa-honey dressing and the mint: the dressing packs a punch and coats the entire salad with a sweet heat, while the mint provides a fresh, cooling effect.

Aside from requiring no cooking, the beauty of this salad is that it can be made ahead and served at room temperature; it'd also be great for a picnic. I've suggested measurements below for serving six people, but really, no measuring is required. Just use equal parts melon, tomato, and cucumber, and crumble as much or as little feta on top as you'd like. For the harissa-honey dressing, taste your harissa first because the amount of heat varies tremendously by brand.
EmilyC

Food52 Review: This is a sprightly and satisfying salad, bright in color and in flavor. I love the idea of combining sweet cantaloupe with harissa. The contrasting sweet, salty, tart, and spicy flavors combine into a beautiful and harmonious whole -- the mint, lemon, and spice tame the sometimes cloying sweetness of the cantaloupe, while the salty feta adds depth. I added the mint just before serving to avoid bruising. I doubled the recipe and couldn't stop eating it. Actually, I can't wait to finish writing this review so I can sneak into the kitchen and have at it. Everyone's in bed: it's just me and the salad now.creamtea

Serves 6

  • 1 cup cantaloupe (watermelon could be substituted), cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup Persian cucumbers, cut into thin coins (about 1/8" thick) or English cucumber, cut into half lengthwise and then half moons 1/8" thick
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed, or to taste (I recommend splurging a little on good-quality feta; it's worth it)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, leaves roughly chopped or torn
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon harissa (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Fleur de sel (or other sea salt) and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Mix the cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, and feta in a bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the extra-virgin olive oil with the harissa and honey.
  3. Drizzle the harissa-honey dressing over the salad, a little at a time, tasting as you go. Season to taste with fleur de sel, a little freshly ground black pepper, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. The flavors will pop when you get the right amount of seasoning!
  4. This salad can be assembled in advance and chilled, though I like to add the tomatoes at room temperature. The flavors get even better after they've had a chance to mingle.
Jump to Comments (21)

Tags: no cook, raw, Summer

Comments (21) Questions (0)

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9 months ago Mae

I just made this tonight (out of season, I know), and I loved it! I have a big jar of homemade harissa, and some mint leaves so I needed a way to use both of them. I used tofu instead of feta, which I marinated in red wine vinegar, EVOO, and herbs - it went perfectly! I know that olives can also work where hard, salty cheeses are called for. Thanks for sharing this!

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9 months ago EmilyC

Somehow missed your comment -- so glad you tried and liked it!

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about 1 year ago Jackie Hark

Emily, Thanks for the info. I didn't have a clue.

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about 1 year ago Jackie Hark

What's harissa?

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Hi Jackie -- harissa is a Tunisian chile sauce that's made with a mix of chiles, olive oil and garlic and often contains spices and herbs. You can buy it in small jars or make your own. See Scribbles' comment below -- she made her own using this Food52 recipe (http://food52.com/recipes...). While it's not the same, I've made this salad before with a generous amount of Aleppo pepper flakes and it's good that way, too.

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about 1 year ago chocolateandvegetables

I've been thinking I need to do something "special" with the last of our cherry tomato plant's fruit--this salad might just be it!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Cool -- I don't think it'll disappoint! : )

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about 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I have some cucumbers looking for a home. I think they just found it :-) This looks wonderful. Many congrats EmilyC!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Susan! I just made it a few days ago to use up some cucumbers and melon. Hope you enjoy it if you give it a go!

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about 1 year ago creamtea

Congrats on the cp nod Emily. This salad was delicious.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

So glad you liked it, creamtea! And thank you for testing it -- I loved reading your review! : )

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about 1 year ago Scribbles

You're welcome EmilyC!

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about 1 year ago Scribbles

The salad was great! Lite and refreshing and went along perfectly with the trout. I used TasteFood's Harissa recipe that I found here on Food52 - very easy to make, tasty and easy to modify the heat level. I've got a nice jar of it my fridge and am dreaming of things to put it on.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Great to know -- thanks!

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about 1 year ago Scribbles

Okay! made my own Harissa - so easy and it tastes great - salad is made...can hardly wait for dinner.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Hi Scribbles -- hope the salad was a hit! What harissa recipe did you use? I really want to try making it from scratch too!

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about 1 year ago BlueKaleRoad

Emily, I made this salad last night and my family devoured it! Thank you for sharing your recipe. What a fantastic summer treat! :)

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Hannah -- this is so lovely to hear! I'm so happy that you tried and liked it! Thanks for your note.

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

If you ever develop the recipe would love to see it. A little harissa adds so much flavor.

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

A wonderful salad and harissa in the dressing has to be a taste explosion. Do you make your own harissa? I haven't had it since I was abroad, its delicious and I imagine the honey tames the heat a bit.

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, sdebrango! I've never made my own harissa -- yet another thing to add to my kitchen bucket list. I was surprised how well it worked with all of the other ingredients.