It’s time to get grown-up about your summer watermelon. Melon salads that aren’t all the way sweet and aren’t all the way savory are all the rage right now, and I am here for it. We already dipped our toes into these waters with the Marinated Peach and Tomato Salad from a few weeks ago, so if you liked that recipe then I think you’re going to love this savory watermelon salad too.
I have a few watermelons growing in my garden right now, but I don’t have any that are mature enough to eat yet (fingers crossed they keep progressing!). Luckily my farmers’ market has been abundant with watermelon recently, and with lots of different varieties to choose from. I was inspired by the beautiful yellow baby watermelon from Corner Springs Farm and knew I had to make something special with it.
Even if you’re not on the savory watermelon salad train, you’ve probably heard of people pairing watermelon with feta. The sweet and salty combination brings out the strong flavors in both ingredients and is all in all a wonderful treat.
A quick google search for savory watermelon salad will give you an abundance of recipes for watermelon + feta salad, but I wanted to do something a little different. I found this recipe from Meatified for Watermelon Salad with Yogurt and was immediately intrigued. Both savory pairings served as the basis of inspiration for this final dish!
Savory Watermelon Salad – Flavor
You’re building the flavors of this watermelon salad with the watermelon + feta pairing in the back of your mind. Start with some greek yogurt, which already has some good tang like feta does. From there, add some olive oil for richness and a touch of flavor and some sea salt to contrast with the sweetness of the watermelon. Lime zest provides a hit of freshness without adding too much acidity to the salad.
The watermelon in the salad obviously adds sweetness, but it also gives a cool and refreshing touch. That’s stretched even further with the addition of chopped cucumber so that the whole salad is intensely fresh and intensely flavorful.
Herbs and freshly shaved fennel tie everything together at the end. I’ve found that herbs are the key to unlocking a savory fruit salad’s potential. With the addition of herbs you’re less focused on is this sweet or is this salty? and more focused on wow, this all tastes amazing together.
Savory Watermelon Salad – Texture
The other thing that makes this savory watermelon salad work? Texture. Things that go hand in hand with cool and refreshing? Crisp and crunchy. The watermelon, the cucumber, the fennel, and the almonds all provide different types of crunch that all work extremely well together. The almonds provide more texture than flavor, so if you have a different favorite nut feel free to substitute!
Watermelon is, well, a little watery – so preserve the texture as much as possible, make sure to assemble this right before you’re ready to serve. You can prep everything in advance, and it should take you no more than 5 minutes to assemble.
P.S. Don’t skip the fennel bulb – it, along with the basil and fennel fronds, really go a long way in bringing the salad together.
Savory Watermelon Salad
This Savory Watermelon Salad is about texture as much as it is about flavor – everything is crunchy and flavorful but in completely different and harmonizing ways!
- 3/4 cup greek yogurt
- 1-2 tbsp Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 cup large diced cucumbers
- 4 cups cubed watermelon cold
- 1/2 fennel bulb shaved
- 1/4 cup chopped Marcona almonds
- 1 tbsp chopped basil
- 1 tsp chopped fennel fronds
Spread the Greek yogurt over a large serving platter into an even layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt. Shave lime zest over the top as well.
Combine the cold cubed watermelon, diced cucumber, and shaved fennel together in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow some of the juices to leech out.
Spoon the watermelon, cucumber, and fennel over top of the Greek yogurt making sure to leave behind any liquid that's leftover in the mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the salad with another pinch of sea salt then top with the almonds, basil, and fennel fronds. Serve cold and immediately
It’s best to cube the watermelon for this in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator to get cold and to release some of its liquid. Prep as much in advance as you can and assemble only right when you’re ready to serve.