Make Ahead

Summer Melon Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint

June 26, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mae
  • chocolateandvegetables
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • creamtea
  • Scribbles

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.

18 Reviews

Mae January 16, 2014
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!
EmilyC February 9, 2014
Somehow missed your comment -- so glad you tried and liked it!
Jackie H. September 12, 2013
Emily, Thanks for the info. I didn't have a clue.
Jackie H. September 12, 2013
What's harissa?
EmilyC September 12, 2013
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 ( 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.
chocolateandvegetables August 28, 2013
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!
EmilyC August 28, 2013
Cool -- I don't think it'll disappoint! : )
TheWimpyVegetarian August 28, 2013
I have some cucumbers looking for a home. I think they just found it :-) This looks wonderful. Many congrats EmilyC!
EmilyC August 28, 2013
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!
creamtea August 27, 2013
Congrats on the cp nod Emily. This salad was delicious.
EmilyC August 28, 2013
So glad you liked it, creamtea! And thank you for testing it -- I loved reading your review! : )
Scribbles August 23, 2013
You're welcome EmilyC!
Scribbles August 22, 2013
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.
EmilyC August 22, 2013
Great to know -- thanks!
Scribbles August 19, 2013
Okay! made my own Harissa - so easy and it tastes great - salad is made...can hardly wait for dinner.
EmilyC August 21, 2013
Hi Scribbles -- hope the salad was a hit! What harissa recipe did you use? I really want to try making it from scratch too!
BlueKaleRoad August 19, 2013
Emily, I made this salad last night and my family devoured it! Thank you for sharing your recipe. What a fantastic summer treat! :)
EmilyC August 21, 2013
Hannah -- this is so lovely to hear! I'm so happy that you tried and liked it! Thanks for your note.