The first time I’d ever heart of watermelon salad with feta was on the last season of The Next Food Network Star. And I won’t lie, I thought it sounded pretty grim. But throughout the last year, I’ve seen it popping up here and there in magazines, cooking shows, and the blogosphere and I finally decided to get up the guts to try it. And I’m so not regretting it.
I remember being a kid when my dad would sprinkle salt on his watermelon and I thought he was nuts until I tried it myself. The same idea is in action here–the salty creaminess of the feta complements the sweet crispness of the watermelon really nicely. In fact, for all the reputation that feta has for being a strong flavor, in this salad, the feta is probably the most subtle of all the flavors. With the spiciness of the onions and basil and the sweetness of the mint and watermelon, the gentle tangy-ness of the feta balances things out perfectly.
This salad is super easy and if you buy chunks of pre-cut watermelon it’s even easier. In a serving bowl, you’ll just combine the watermelon, fresh basil, fresh mint, thinly sliced onions, crumbled feta, lime juice, and coarse salt:
The recipe I adapted from calls for watercress, but I LOATHE watercress, so I substituted cilantro. If you hate cilantro and watercress, try Italian parsley or chopped fresh spinach.
Then you just give it a quick toss and serve it ASAP. And I’ve gotta tell ya…you know how there are some foods that just make you feel good after you eat them? Like your body is just thanking you for giving it some of the good stuff? This salad is totally that way. Not only is it super low in calories, but you just feel nourished after you eat it, like you never want to have a chocolate hangover again. If only I could bottle that feeling…
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
6 c. cubed (1/2″ cubes) watermelon
1 c. minced cilantro*
1/2 c. thinly sliced red onions (about 1/2 of a small red onion, maybe a bit more)
1/4 c. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Juice of 2 limes (3-4 Tbsp.)
1 4-oz. package of Athenos crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/2 heaping tsp. Kosher salt
Gently combine the ingredients (reserve 1/4 c. of feta). Sprinkle with reserved feta, garnish with basil and mint leaves, and lightly sprinkle with additional salt. Serve immediately.
*The original recipe calls for 2 c. of watercress. If you prefer watercress, feel free to substitute it for cilantro in this recipe. If you don’t like cilantro or watercress, try substituting 1 c. minced Italian parsley or 2 c. chopped spinach.