Fourth of July

Watermelon, Tomato, and Four-Herb Salad

July  1, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 2 to 4
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups 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 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ounce aged pecorino, thinly shaved
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Muriel Elliott Mimura
    Muriel Elliott Mimura
  • Diana Hirsch
    Diana Hirsch
  • AntoniaJames
  • JanetFL
  • hardlikearmour

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.

28 Reviews

Muriel E. July 18, 2020
Since we are not that fond of walnuts, I sub'd lemon EVOO for the walnut oil & EVOO and pistachios for the walnuts. I served it with grilled red snapper.
Muriel E. July 18, 2020
Wonderful and lite! We are not that fond of walnuts, so I sub'd lemon EVOO for the walnut oil & EVOO and pistachios for the walnuts. We enjoyed it with grilled red snapper.
EmilyC July 19, 2020
So glad you enjoyed this salad, Muriel! Thanks for your note.
Alexis1478 May 27, 2019
Delicious combination of flavors. Very light and refreshing. I didn't have pecorino so I subbed with Feta and it worked beautifully.
Diana H. September 5, 2015
Ein klasse und leckeres Rezept. Das wird es öfters bei mir geben...danke
SG59 August 22, 2015
This is an amazing summer salad, but if you want to prepare ahead or take on a picnic, store the leafy components in one container and the marinated tomatoes and watermelon in another, assembling everything just before serving. And this is great without the tomatoes--my philistine husband has a problem wiht the "mouth feel" of tomatoes (ugh!)--just increase the watermelon and consider using pink and yellow varieties.
Ruth M. August 7, 2014
This is gorgeous! I used feta cheese instead of pecorino.
Phoov June 29, 2014
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!
EmilyC June 30, 2014
So happy to hear this Phoov! Thanks for your note.
Barbara P. June 29, 2014
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!
EmilyC June 30, 2014
Haha -- no problem!
Barbara P. June 29, 2014
I have a question. I don't like walnuts. Could I sub almonds?
Ceege June 25, 2014
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.
EmilyC June 25, 2014
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!
AntoniaJames June 19, 2014
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)
EmilyC June 19, 2014
Thanks for the tip, AJ, and thanks for trying this.
AntoniaJames June 19, 2014
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!
EmilyC June 20, 2014
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!
EM-MV September 1, 2013
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?
EmilyC September 1, 2013
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!
JanetFL July 3, 2013
In the! 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.
EmilyC July 7, 2013
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!
hardlikearmour July 2, 2013
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.
EmilyC July 2, 2013
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!
hardlikearmour July 2, 2013
Gorgeous photo! I wish I could eat it off the screen.
EmilyC July 3, 2013
Thanks! : )
Midge July 1, 2013
Love the sound of this. Saved!
EmilyC July 2, 2013
Thanks, Midge! It's my new favorite salad!