Nothing represents summer quite like fresh, ripe watermelon. This classic recipe is one you’ll go back to all summer long. The juicy watermelon, the salty feta, the sweet basil and mint with crunchy, spicy jalapeno create the perfect bite. This recipe couldn’t be simpler with only 5 ingredients and zero actual cooking which is ideal for these hot summer days.
If you’ve never peeled a watermelon with a knife before, don’t fret! I’m about to tell you how. All you need is a good cutting board and a large knife, preferably a chef’s knife like this one that I use for almost everything.
- Cut a small slice off the top and bottom of the watermelon to stabilize and to give you a starting point for slicing.
- Stand it up on one end and carefully slide the knife just under the rind starting at the top. Gently glide the knife down the curve of the fruit, removing the rind in thin slice.
- Continue around the perimeter of the watermelon until all the rind is removed.
Don’t worry about doing perfectly, you can always go back and cut off any leftover pieces of rind.
Next, you’ll slice the watermelon in half, then in quarters. Work with each quarter piece and slice into long spears. From there, cut the spears into cubes, squaring off the edges if necessary to keep the cubes uniform. Unless you don’t care about perfectly square cubes, then by all means just chop it up.
When purchasing the cheese, make sure to get the “chunk in brine” feta as opposed to the pre-crumbled kind. This variety is typically higher quality cheese and also allows you to easily dice it into cubes.
The jalapeno adds the perfect mild spice and peppery flavor, but if you’re not a fan of chiles feel free to leave it out. Always taste the jalapeno before you add it in, there’s a lot of variation in spice level among peppers. I’ve found jalapenos that are almost as mild as a green bell peppers lately so I used more. If you get a super spicy one, either use less, or slice it super thin using a mandoline for smaller pieces.
Follow the instructional photos below to slice the basil and mint leaves into ribbons, a technique called “chiffonade”.
I like to season the watermelon with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt first. Then I assemble the salad by plating the watermelon as the base, then the feta cubes ( I like to crumble some as well for a textural difference), then the mint and basil, lemon zest and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
- 1 small, ripe seedless watermelon, cubed
- 8 oz “chunk in brine” feta cheese, cubed
- 1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced (about 1.5-2 tbsp)
- 8 large fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade
- 6 large fresh mint leaves, sliced into chiffonade
- 1 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
- Squeeze of fresh lemon
- lemon zest for garnish (about 1 tsp)
- Slice and cube the watermelon
- Cut the feta into cubes
- Seed and dice the jalapeno
- Slice the basil and mint leaves into chiffonade (as instructed above)
- Season the watermelon cubes with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt and toss to combine.
- Plate the watermelon in a vertical pile on a serving platter
- Distribute the feta cubes evenly along the watermelon pile, breaking up some of the cubes into crumbles.
- Evenly distribute the diced jalapeno along the watermelon and feta
- Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the salad
- Sprinkle with the sliced herbs and lemon zest