Looking for a light and fresh side dish that will ignite your guests’ taste buds this summer? Try this sweet and savory, versatile watermelon salad that is refreshing to your palate and pairs well with any menu. If you can’t find any good watercress, baby arugula can take its place, but just be sure to add a few extra grinds of fresh black pepper. And, using Virginia farm-to-table ingredients is a sure-fire way to elevate this classic Watermelon with Feta Salad Recipe.
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon
When it comes to watermelon, we all love when the fruit is sweet, juicy and refreshing. The key to selecting the perfect watermelon is to look for the signs that show the watermelon has ripened completely.
- A round-shaped melon,
- A strong and consistent stripe pattern,
- A deeply rich green color with light yellow throughout the fruit,
- Lots of color variation on the melon,
- A pale yellow large spot at the bottom of the melon, and
- A stem that is a mix between yellow and brown.
- A deep hollow sound when knocking.
- A decent weight when you lift the watermelon (it should be heavy),
- A little bit of give to the melon when you squeeze it lightly, and
- Spots and texture around the melon.
Using seasonal produce and exciting ingredients makes this recipe easy, convenient and delicious for everyone.
What to Look for When Buying Feta
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know what to look for when selecting feta cheese. There are a few key qualities that will ensure you are selecting cheese with the best quality and freshness.
First, good feta cheese will have simple ingredients on the label. You want to look for sheep’s milk, rennet and salt, and generally avoid any additional ingredients like cow’s milk, as it may develop a sour and unpleasant aftertaste.
It’s also recommended to buy feta that says “made in Greece” to ensure the authenticity of the cheese. Finally, the best quality feta will be in whole blocks and preserved in a brine. This brine helps the cheese retain its moisture and keeps the feta fresh.
Watermelon & Feta Salad
- 1/2 of a ripe, seedless watermelon, cut from the rind, cubed
- 1 block good feta, preferably sheep's milk (if using crumbled feta, 1 ounce of whole feta equals 1/4 cup crumbled feta)
- Watercress, or arugula (optional)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp good red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey, local if available
- 1 bunch mixed fresh herbs, such as mint and basil, torn or chopped with a sharp knife
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Make the dressing: whisk lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, pepper and kosher salt.
- 30 minutes before serving, toss cubed watermelon, loosely crumbled feta and greens in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing.
- When ready to serve, mix in herbs. Garnish with a few whole herb leaves and more cracked pepper, if desired.
If you’re searching for additional hors d’oeuvres or wine to pair with this Watermelon and Feta Salad with Watercress, try either a locally-made Rosé (dry) or a Sauvignon Blanc, such as Horton Vineyards’ 2017 Pinotage Rosé and Stinson Vineyards’ 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, both available at The Wine & Country Shop. The flavors of these two types of wine both complement the herbs of the recipe.
With a quick and simple dressing and fresh ingredients from a Virginia farmers market, this recipe is healthy, delicious and doesn’t require too much time in the kitchen. Enjoy it by itself or paired served alongside other summer dishes at a dinner party or potluck. For more summer recipes, see the other two farm-to-table dishes in our 3 Summer Salad Recipes series, and for other local recipes, see our Food & Drink page. ~
NADIRAH MUHAMMAD is an editorial assistant with Ivy Life & Style Media. She is dedicated to exploring the world through writing and adding eloquence to everyday life.
FRANCESCA BLACK is a freelance content creator who uses her culinary background to explore the best in food and drink in Virginia.
Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an annual art book celebrating elegant Virginia weddings, are complemented by the Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA—a beautiful lifestyle boutique that brings the pages of the magazines to life. The Shop features over 40 Virginia artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire to locally made foods and award-winning Virginia wines and craft beverages for your next event. Wine & Country covers the grape-growing foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Lynchburg to Leesburg, including points in between like Charlottesville and Middleburg. Ivy Life & Style Media also creates other projects, including CharlottesvilleFamily.com, a collection of local resources including a popular calendar of events, family services guides and features on education, health and family day trips for parents and teachers in Charlottesville, as well as the CharlottesvilleWelcomeBook.com a guide to resources for Charlottesville tourists and newcomers.