Watermelon, Tomato, and Four-Herb Salad

By • July 1, 2013 • 21 Comments



Author Notes: This salad is exactly what I want to make and eat during the heat of summer -- either as a light dinner or a side to grilled meat. It’s inspired by the various watermelon and feta salads I’ve made over the years. For this version, I decided to pay homage to the recipes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi by using a large quantity of herbs. With equal parts torn basil, mint, and tarragon, it’s my favorite version that I’ve made to date. The herbs add a lot of interest to the salad, and the lemon-rosemary vinaigrette (which is both a marinade and a dressing) unites all of the components -- with the sweet heat of the Aleppo for balance. I opted to add shaved pecorino, but feel free to use feta if it's what you have on hand.EmilyC

Food52 Review: Love it! Juicy, interesting, and delicious, this salad would be perfect for a warm summer picnic. Heed the recipe's cautions against overdressing. Texturally, it is not all that varied, so I recommend leaving the walnuts pretty chunky.Katherine

Serves 2 to 4

  • FOR SALAD
  • 1 1/2 cup baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup tarragon leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn
  • 3 cups seedless watermelon cubes (about 1-inch in size)
  • 3/4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ounce aged pecorino, thinly shaved
  • FOR VINAIGRETTE
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  1. To make the vinaigrette: Combine lemon juice and zest, rosemary, and Aleppo in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oils until emulsified. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
  2. Combine the watermelon cubes and cherry tomatoes in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Set aside for about 10 minutes to marinate.
  3. Toss together the arugula, herbs, walnuts, and pecorino in a large serving bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt. Add the watermelon cubes and cherry tomatoes, draining off any excess liquid that's accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Add just enough additional vinaigrette to lightly coat the arugula and herbs, taking care to not overdress. Toss lightly, and season to taste with sea salt, freshly -ground black pepper, and Aleppo for more heat.

Comments (21) Questions (0)

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29 days ago Phoov

Just made this, tonight, with a few minor substitutes. Subbed fresh marjoram for the tarragon which I could not get for my garden, this year. Used peanut oil in place of the walnut, and used asiago for the cheese. This recipe is absolutely fantastic!! Thanks, Emily! Cannot wait to make this for my next dinner party!

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28 days ago EmilyC

So happy to hear this Phoov! Thanks for your note.

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29 days ago Barbara Pepelko

Sorry I didn't read the comments--my question had already been answered! That will teach me to read the whole thing before asking a question!

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28 days ago EmilyC

Haha -- no problem!

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29 days ago Barbara Pepelko

I have a question. I don't like walnuts. Could I sub almonds?

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about 1 month ago Ceege

I love food52!!!!!!!!!!! This recipe will be made for the 4th of July this year. Will take to family picnic. Can I sub another nut as we have family members allergic to walnuts. Would pecans or almonds work in this recipe? Or what nut would you suggest? Thanks......I have already saved it to my salad folder.

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about 1 month ago EmilyC

Yes, you can absolutely sub another nut -- I've made it with almonds and it's just as good! You can replace the walnut oil with another nut oil or more olive oil. Hope this is a big hit at your 4th of July celebration!

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about 1 month ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

We liked this a lot, but found that even a reduced quantity of mint overwhelmed the other herbs' flavors after the salad had sat for about an hour and a half. Keep that in mind when taking this on a picnic, block party, etc. (Add the mint right before serving.) ;o)

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about 1 month ago EmilyC

Thanks for the tip, AJ, and thanks for trying this.

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about 1 month ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Well, I didn't officially test it. I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand, and we had a friend over, grilling outside over the weekend, so we went for it. It's wonderfully refreshing -- especially with the grilled chicken + veggies! Also, my mint may be stronger than most. It's in full sun, which amps the intensity of all mint family members, especially when freshly picked. ;o) P.S. I'm really glad Food52 chose this recipe to photograph. It's so darn pretty!

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about 1 month ago EmilyC

Official tester or not, I'm happy you tried this! And I agree, it's such a pretty salad, made even prettier by the test kitchen/James Ransom. My food never looks as pretty at home!

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11 months ago EM-MV

It looks like sungold cherry tomatoes in the photo, which are so sweet. How would this salad be if you didn't use sweet tomatoes or used large tomatoes chopped up?

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11 months ago EmilyC

Any type of tomato would work well here; I went with yellow cherry tomatoes for the color contrast. A large tomato chopped up will yield more juice, but that's not a bad thing!

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about 1 year ago JanetFL

In the garden...mint/Yes! tarragon/Yes! Basil/Yes! Everything else is in my grocery store....except Aleppo :( Someone needs to send me Aleppo! Can't wait to try this, Emily.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Janet! Feel free to sub regular red pepper flakes, though they're hotter than Aleppo so add to taste. It's definitely a good, no-fuss summer salad to have up your sleeve!

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about 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Love your spin on a watermelon salad! It sounds refreshing and delicious which is a perfect combination for the 90+ weather we've been having.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks HLA! I agree, no-cook dishes like this are a must when it's hot and humid! Which is pretty much every day in the DC area!

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about 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Gorgeous photo! I wish I could eat it off the screen.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks! : )

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about 1 year ago Midge

Love the sound of this. Saved!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks, Midge! It's my new favorite salad!