Make Ahead

Summer Melon Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint

by:
June 26, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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
Ingredients
  • 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
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

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Review
EmilyC

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.