Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Feta and Chile Vinaigrette

It feels wrong to admit that watermelon isn’t my favorite. Growing up, I remember looking around at other kids blissfully devouring huge wedges of it – lifting their dripping faces now and then to spew little black seeds. It baffled me.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Thyme

And it wasn’t the dripping and spewing I was opposed to, I didn’t especially like the flavor. To me it tasted – still does – like sugar water.  But a big wedge of cantaloupe or honeydew melon, that’s a bliss I understand- they’re sweet, yes, but they burst with that unique, ‘melony’ flavor. Watermelon, not so much.


Today, though, I’m excited to report that I’ve been redeemed. It turns out that I like watermelon – a lot actually – when it’s combined with other flavors that I love. Its watery, cool sweetness is the perfect foundation and a critical element to one of the better summer salads I’ve ever had.

I must nod to Hermiston farmers here – they grow a mean melon, even watermelon, even SEEDLESS watermelon (which I’ve always heard has less flavor than its seedy counterpart). Maybe if I’d grown up in Eastern Oregon, it wouldn’t have taken me four decades to find a place in my heart for this much-beloved summer fruit. (incidentally my dear Mary happens to live in Hermiston – Hi Mary! :) )


You’ll notice in the credit that I found this recipe flipping through InStyle magazine. I know!? I usually just flip through to remind myself of how inadequate my wardrobe is, not for kitchen inspiration. But I saw all of those bright, summery colors and couldn’t resist giving it a try. I’m glad I did – you will be too.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Feta and Chile Vinaigrette
Even if you’re not a big watermelon fan, please give this a try. The sweet watermelon, peppery arugula, salty feta, and little chile kick combine for a flavor far above the sum of the parts.
For the serrano chile vinaigrette:
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ½ serrano chile, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the salad:
  • 1 medium seedless watermelon (skin and rind removed), sliced into medium squares about ½-inch thick
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 8 ounces feta, sliced into ¼-inch squares (Valbreso sheep’s milk feta is my hands-down favorite)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. To make the vinagrette: whisk together first 5 ingredients (lime juice through time) in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
  2. For the salad: arrange watermelon, arugula and feta on a serving platter or individual plates. Drizzle salad with ⅓ to ½ cup vinaigrette. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve.
  3. Serves 4

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  1. says

    Well, watermelon isn’t my favorite either, so at least you’re not alone! That said, it does sound pretty great in a savory salad application. :)

  2. says

    I am a big fan of watermelons, your salad looks great. Reading through the ingredients make me feel like this recipe brings together a lot of great tastes, lovely.

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