Dinner Tonight: Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions

August  2, 2016

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.

Grocery List
Organized by area of the market

  • 1 small to medium seedless watermelon
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

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.

See the full recipe here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lost_in_NYC
  • PHIL
  • Briana Riddock
    Briana Riddock
Freelance Food Writer


Lost_in_NYC August 2, 2016
There's an easier way to pickle onions without doing the whole boiling liquid route that works just as in well in a pinch. 20-15 minutes before meal time:
- Cut the onion in desired shape
- mix in vinegar AND lime juice with the onions depending on quantity cut.
- a TOUCH OF oil (vegetable) just so the acid sticks to the onions. Dont go crazy with this step.
- mix in some salt to taste
- let these rest until ready to use
- you can also mix in red chili powder for colour/heat depending on the dish using for.
Briana R. August 3, 2016
Thanks for an alternative suggestion!
PHIL August 2, 2016
Hi Brianna, what if you want to make extra onions? DO you leave them in the liquid and put int the fridge?
Briana R. August 2, 2016
Hi! Yes, leave the onions in the pickling solution in an air tight container. Mason jars with lids work the best.