Eating watermelon can be an unavoidably messy—though welcome—eating experience that we look forward to all summer long. And sometimes the mess is called for; there are instances where watermelon juice dripping down your arms is completely satisfying, and you wouldn't want it any other way. But sometimes, you want a slightly more refined watermelon-eating experience. And it's then you should make this vibrant Watermelon, Arugula, and Pickled Onion Summer Salad.
This beautifully bright green and pink-red salad—which layers peppery arugula, quick-pickled onions, watermelon, and goat cheese—gives you a mix of sweet and tangy, plus a fresh peppery crunch in each bite, with the watermelon safely at the end of a fork. The assertive pickled onions complement the creamy goat cheese well, and balance the melon's sweetness. Serve it in big bowls: It's the kind of salad that's very difficult to stop eating.
We're assuming you already have salt, sugar, black peppercorns, and 1/4 cup olive oil, but if not, add them to your list too!
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The Game Plan
25 minutes before dinner, cut the watermelon into bite sized cubes and set aside. In a saucepan, the apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, tablespoon of sugar, and a few whole black peppercorns bring to a boil. Remove pickling liquid from the heat and add the onions to the pan. Allow them to soak and soften for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Combine the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to taste while slowly drizzling in the olive oil.
Just before sitting down, build the salad by tossing the arugula in the vinaigrette and topping with a layer of the cubed watermelon, crumbled cheese, and pickled onions.