Nothing is more refreshing in the summer than a beautiful watermelon basil salad. It's so perfect for enjoying dinner outdoors, under the stars, on those warm nights.
The best part is? It's super easy and so versatile. Don't like feta? Great, use goat cheese or even burrata. Not so into the basil? Awesome, mint is also fabulous. Don't let the recipe dictate this salad for you!
The other thing I love about this salad is how simple it is. Making food in the summer is all about letting the natural ingredients shine, and this salad absolutely does that.
Experience the ultimate summer delight with our watermelon basil salad. Juicy watermelon, tangy feta cheese, and aromatic basil combine for a refreshing flavor fusion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Watermelon and basil are a delicious flavor combination. The sweet watermelon pairs perfectly with the aromatic basil. The contrasting flavors create a harmonious balance, adding a fresh twist to dishes like watermelon basil salad. Give it a try and enjoy the delightful combination of watermelon and basil!
Yes, you can prepare the watermelon salad a few hours in advance. However, it's best to add the dressing and fresh herbs just before serving to maintain the salad's texture and flavors.
Watermelon salad pairs well with various ingredients. Add cucumber, mint, arugula, lime juice, red onion, or even crumbled goat cheese for extra flavor and texture.
Yes, watermelon salad is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free, making it a versatile and inclusive option for various dietary preferences.
Absolutely! If you're not a fan of feta, you can substitute it with other cheeses like goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, or even crumbled queso fresco for a different flavor profile.
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
Refreshing Summer Delight: Stay cool and enjoy the refreshing flavors of juicy watermelon and aromatic basil in this simple salad, perfect for summer.
Easy to Make: With just a few ingredients and minimal effort required, this recipe is a breeze for those who prefer hassle-free cooking.
Flavor Fusion: The combination of sweet watermelon, tangy feta cheese, and fragrant basil creates a delightful blend that tantalizes your taste buds.
Light and Healthy: This salad is a healthy choice, with hydrating watermelon and the nutritional benefits of fresh ingredients like basil and feta cheese.
Versatile and Customizable: Make this salad your own by adding extras such as cucumber, mint, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze, enhancing the depth of flavor to suit your preferences.
Eye-Catching Presentation: Impress guests with the vibrant colors of watermelon, feta cheese, and basil, making this salad a visual delight for summer gatherings.
Suitable for Various Diets: This watermelon basil salad is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free, catering to different dietary preferences and restrictions.
Quick to Prepare: In just a few simple steps, you can have this refreshing salad ready to serve, saving you time in the kitchen.
What is Watermelon Basil Salad?
Watermelon basil salad is a refreshing dish that combines the sweetness of watermelon with the aromatic flavor of basil. It is a popular summer salad known for its vibrant colors and delightful taste.
The exact origin of watermelon basil salad is unclear, as it has evolved over time with various culinary influences. However, it is believed to have originated in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisine, where the combination of fruits and herbs is common in savory dishes.
Over time, watermelon basil salad has gained popularity worldwide, particularly during the summer season when watermelons are abundant and refreshing dishes are sought after. It has become a go-to salad for its simplicity, lightness, and the way it complements other summer flavors.
Watermelon: The star ingredient of the salad, watermelon provides a juicy, sweet, and refreshing flavor. It adds a burst of natural sweetness, hydrates the palate, and provides a refreshing element to balance the other flavors.
Basil: Basil is an aromatic herb with a slightly peppery and herbal taste. Its fresh and fragrant qualities complement the sweetness of the watermelon, adding a pleasant contrast and a touch of sophistication to the salad.
Feta Cheese: Feta cheese is a tangy and crumbly cheese that pairs exceptionally well with the sweet watermelon. Its saltiness and creamy texture provide a savory element that balances the overall flavor profile of the salad.
Extra-virgin Olive Oil: The olive oil acts as a base for the salad dressing. It adds a smooth texture and a subtle fruity note, enhancing the overall richness and mouthfeel of the salad.
Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar brings a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dressing. Its acidity helps to brighten the flavors of the watermelon and feta cheese, while adding depth and complexity to the overall taste.
How to Make Watermelon Salad
First, grab a ripe and juicy watermelon. Give it a tap, and if it sounds hollow, you know it's good to go. Now, let's slice that watermelon into bite-sized cubes. You can remove the seeds if you prefer (or grab a seedless watermelon to start with). Place the watermelon cubes in a large bowl.
Next, it's time to add our star herb, fresh basil! Take a handful of basil leaves and give them a gentle rinse. Once they're clean, stack the leaves together and roll them up tightly. Slice the rolled basil leaves into thin ribbons, also known as chiffonade. Sprinkle those lovely basil ribbons over the watermelon cubes.
Now, let's bring in the tangy and creamy element with feta cheese. Crumble some feta cheese on top of the watermelon and basil. You can be as generous or as light-handed as you like, depending on your cheesy cravings.
For the final touch, we'll drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the salad. This will add a smooth and fruity richness to the dish. And, of course, don't forget the balsamic vinegar! Give the salad a drizzle of high-quality balsamic vinegar for that tangy and slightly sweet flavor. The dressing will tie all the flavors together beautifully.
Once everything is in the bowl, gently toss the salad to combine all the ingredients. You want the flavors to mingle and get cozy with each other. Let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, so they have time to mingle.
That's it! Your salad is ready to go!
Pro Tips and Tricks
- Choose Ripe and Juicy Watermelon: Look for a watermelon that feels heavy for its size and has a deep, rich color. Tap the watermelon, and if it sounds hollow, it's a good indication of ripeness. The juicier the watermelon, the more flavorful your salad will be.
- Chill Ingredients in Advance: For an extra refreshing salad, chill the watermelon cubes, basil leaves, and other ingredients in the refrigerator before assembling. This will ensure a cool and crisp salad that's perfect for hot summer days.
- Add a Pop of Citrus: Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon or lime juice over the salad just before serving. The citrusy tang will enhance the flavors of the watermelon and basil, giving your salad an extra vibrant kick.
- Experiment with Texture: To add some textural variation to your salad, consider adding toasted nuts or seeds, such as sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds. They'll provide a delightful crunch that complements the juicy watermelon and creamy feta cheese.
- Get Creative with Dressing: While a simple drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar works beautifully, don't be afraid to experiment with different dressings. Consider a citrus vinaigrette, honey-lime dressing, or even a light yogurt-based dressing for a unique twist.
- Play with Presentation: Elevate the visual appeal of your salad by using a mix of red, yellow, and orange watermelon varieties. Arrange the watermelon cubes, basil, and other ingredients on a platter or in individual bowls for an eye-catching presentation.
- Season with Salt and Pepper: Just before serving, lightly season the salad with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The seasoning will help to enhance the flavors and balance the sweetness of the watermelon.
- Customize with Additional Herbs: Don't limit yourself to just basil! Feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or even dill. These herbs can add a unique twist and elevate the overall flavor profile of the salad.
Like we mentioned, this salad is super versatile, so don't feel like you need to stick to the recipe word for word. Here are some other flavor combos you can play with!
Caprese Twist: Add some mozzarella or burrata cheese to the watermelon basil salad for a delightful Caprese-inspired version. Slice fresh mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and toss it with the watermelon, basil, and other ingredients. Drizzle with a balsamic glaze for an extra burst of flavor.
Minty Blueberry Delight: To give your salad a fruity and refreshing twist, include fresh mint leaves and juicy blueberries. Chop some mint leaves and sprinkle them over the watermelon and basil. Add a handful of blueberries for a burst of sweetness and color.
Blue Cheese Bliss: For a bold and tangy flavor, crumble some blue cheese over the watermelon and basil. The creamy, pungent notes of blue cheese will create a delicious contrast with the sweet watermelon.
Tomato Basil Infusion: Combine the classic flavors of tomato and basil by adding ripe tomato chunks to the watermelon basil salad. Choose sweet cherry tomatoes or heirloom varieties for a burst of freshness and color.
Thai Basil Zing: Give your salad an Asian-inspired twist by incorporating Thai basil. This variety of basil has a slightly spicy and licorice-like flavor. Chop some Thai basil leaves and mix them with the watermelon, along with other ingredients for a unique and aromatic twist.
Refreshing Red Onion Kick: For an added crunch and mild onion flavor, thinly slice some red onion and sprinkle it over the watermelon and basil. It adds a subtle tanginess and a touch of color to the salad.
Peachy Arugula Fusion: For a salad with a peppery kick, add arugula leaves to the watermelon and basil combination. The peppery arugula pairs well with the sweet watermelon, and adding slices of fresh peach will add a juicy and sweet element to the mix.
Strawberry Goat Cheese Medley: Combine the sweetness of strawberries with the tanginess of goat cheese. Slice fresh strawberries and crumble some goat cheese over the watermelon and basil. It's a delightful blend of flavors that balances sweetness and tanginess.
Quinoa Powerhouse: If you want to make your salad more substantial, add cooked quinoa to the watermelon and basil mix. Quinoa adds protein and texture to the salad, making it a satisfying and nutritious meal.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers: Fire up the grill and prepare some succulent grilled shrimp skewers. The smoky and flavorful shrimp will complement the refreshing flavors of the salad perfectly.
Herb-Marinated Grilled Chicken: Marinate chicken breasts or thighs in a mixture of herbs, garlic, and olive oil, then grill them to juicy perfection. The savory grilled chicken will provide a satisfying protein element to accompany your salad.
Crusty Baguette Slices: Slice up a crusty baguette and toast it lightly. The crispy bread will add texture and make for a delightful accompaniment to enjoy with the watermelon basil salad.
Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers: If you're opting for a more substantial meal, prepare colorful bell peppers stuffed with a flavorful quinoa mixture. The combination of quinoa, vegetables, and herbs will pair nicely with the refreshing salad.
Citrus-Marinated Grilled Tofu: For a vegetarian or vegan option, marinate tofu in a tangy citrus marinade and grill it until golden and flavorful. The tangy tofu will provide a protein-rich element to enjoy alongside your salad.
Crispy Prosciutto: If you're looking to add a touch of indulgence, crisp up some thin slices of prosciutto in a pan until they're nice and crispy. The salty and savory prosciutto will add a contrasting element to the sweet watermelon and fresh basil flavors.
Summer Berry Parfait: For a sweet ending to your meal, prepare a light and refreshing summer berry parfait. Layer fresh berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola for added crunch.
Let's elevate your watermelon basil salad experience with some delightful wine choices. Here are a few wine pairings that will complement the flavors and refreshing nature of the salad:
- Rosé: A dry or semi-dry rosé wine is a classic choice to pair with watermelon basil salad. The crisp and fruity notes of the rosé will harmonize with the sweet watermelon while enhancing the herbal qualities of the basil.
- Sauvignon Blanc: This white wine varietal with its vibrant acidity and citrusy flavors is a fantastic match for the watermelon basil salad. The zesty and refreshing character of Sauvignon Blanc will bring out the freshness of the ingredients.
- Pinot Grigio: Another white wine option to consider is Pinot Grigio. Its light-bodied and crisp nature will complement the lightness of the salad while providing a subtle fruity and floral touch.
- Prosecco: If you're in the mood for some bubbly, Prosecco is a delightful choice. Its effervescence and hints of green apple and pear will add a lively and celebratory element to your salad experience.
- Grenache Rosé: This rosé wine made from the Grenache grape variety offers a lovely balance of fruitiness and acidity. Its strawberry and raspberry notes will beautifully complement the watermelon flavors while adding a touch of complexity.
- Riesling: For a slightly sweeter wine option, a semi-sweet or off-dry Riesling can work wonders with the watermelon basil salad. The fruity and floral characteristics of Riesling will enhance the sweetness of the watermelon while providing a refreshing counterpoint.
Other Awesome Summer Recipes
Watermelon Basil Salad (with Feta)
- 4 C watermelon diced
- 1 C feta cheese crumbled
- ½ C basil leaves thinly sliced
- ¼ C olive oil
- 2 tablespoon basalmic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine the diced watermelon, and crumbled crumbled feta cheese.
- Stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll tightly, and thinly slice the pack to create thin ribbons. Add to the watermelon and feta.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the dressing over the watermelon, feta, and basil mixture. Gently toss to coat everything evenly.
- Let the salad sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Serve the watermelon basil salad chilled or at room temperature. You can garnish it with some additional torn basil leaves if desired.
- Make it Ahead: You can prepare the watermelon cubes, chop the basil, and crumble the feta cheese a few hours before. Keep the ingredients refrigerated separately and assemble the salad just before serving to maintain its freshness.
- Customize to Taste: Feel free to adjust the quantities of the ingredients based on your preferences. If you adore the sweetness of watermelon, add more cubes. Craving an extra herbal kick? Increase the amount of basil. Make it your own and tailor it to suit your bougie palate.
- Waste Not, Want Not: Don't discard the watermelon rind! It can be repurposed for pickling or used as a creative garnish. Reduce waste and explore new culinary adventures with the leftover rind.