Watermelon Steak Salad With Heirloom Tomatoes & Sangria Vinaigrette

June  7, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Siobhán Egan
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 6 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

I grew up eating Georgia Rattlesnake watermelons—that’s really what they’re called, because the dark green stripes resemble a diamondback rattlesnake. These heirloom varietals, which can grow up to 40 pounds, have a deep reddish pink flesh that is sweeter than sweet. Folks started growing them around here in the 1830s. When I was a kid, we’d throw them in the back of the truck and take them to market. Because they are harder to come by now, and because people have grown accustomed to seedless watermelons, I created this recipe to accommodate either. But I absolutely prefer a rattlesnake watermelon, which we grow at Gilliard Farms.

Excerpted from Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright © 2021 CheFarmer Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon. Photography © 2021 by Siobhán Egan. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press, a Division of W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.
Matthew Raiford

What You'll Need
  • For the salad
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds freshly mixed salad greens or microgreens
  • 1 pound 1 pound heirloom tomatoes of varying sizes and colors, such as Cherokee Purple, Yellow
  • Brandywine, black and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 medium seedless watermelon (5 to 10 pounds)
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • For the vinaigrette
  • 1 cup traditional red sangria, either homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt
  1. Prepare your grill for medium-high direct heat, 375° to 450°F.
  2. While the grill comes up to temperature, wash and dry the salad greens, then divide the greens among four to six serving plates. Wash and dry your tomatoes. Slice the whole tomatoes into ½-inch rounds and halve the cherry tomatoes. Divide and arrange the tomato slices evenly among the plates. Set the plates in the refrigerator to chill while you finish the dish.
  3. Slice the watermelon into ¾-to-1-inch-thick “steaks,” then quarter the steaks into wedges.
  4. Brush each side of the watermelon with a little olive oil, then set the wedges on the grill for approximately 3 minutes per side, until you get grill marks. The longer you leave the wedges on, the sweeter they’ll get. Remove the watermelon from the grill and arrange evenly among the salad plates.
  5. Pour the sangria into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout, then whisk the olive oil into the sangria until it makes a nice, loose vinaigrette. Generously dress the salads. Sprinkle the salads with pepper and salt to your liking, then serve.

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1 Review

Kathy K. June 7, 2021
This was a fail on several levels. The grilled watermelon was slimy and the texture was wrong. Plus having warm watermelon with cold salad also seemed unbalanced. The vinaigrette had no vinegar flavor using bottled sangria. The homemade sangria I make is even sweeter so there was no thought to use that. Was there red wine vinegar missing from the recipe? There was nothing acidic to make it a true vinaigrette. We took out the grilled watermelon and replaced it with cold watermelon and it was salvageable. We used fresh tomatoes from our garden so that was the only bright spot.