Cold watermelon is such a miraculous, direct-from-nature summer treat. With its high percentage of water, it stays cold longer than many other items on the barbeque table, making it ideal for even the hottest of summer days. I also love how large and inexpensive watermelons tend to be; one is enough to feed a crowd…most of the time.
As spectacular as a plain watermelon can be, this salad brings the traditional fruit to a new level. By adding just mint, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, this salad will take your watermelon from ordinary to extraordinary.Jump to Recipe
This watermelon salad is partly inspired by a fruit vendor my family encountered in San Diego in the mid-2000s. The vendor sold my uncle an enormous bag of fresh cut watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, and coconut. Before giving us the bag, he poured in a heavy sprinkling of salt and other spices. I was initially quite skeptical; who wants salty melon? Can you really improve upon fresh cut fruit? Apparently you can. Instead of turning the dish into a savory mess, the salt highlighted the sweetness of the melon and transformed it into an even more refreshing treat.
For this recipe, we are keeping things more traditional than the southern Californian vendor. We use just half a teaspoon of salt per half of one watermelon – really, not very much. We’ll also use 2 tablespoons of fresh mint and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. The small amount of salt will bring out the inherent sweetness of the watermelon, and the mint will add an extra bite of freshness. The acid in the lemon will marry all of the above flavors together to create a complex, balanced result. As with any salad, feel free to adjust the ratios of the salt, lemon, and mint to suit your taste; I suggest starting on the conservative side and sampling as you increase the concentration.
It’s worth mentioning that this recipe only calls for one half of a large watermelon. Why not use the entire melon? Honestly, because guests at a party are often skeptical. “What’s wrong with regular watermelon?” they say. So, I’ll usually cut up the entire watermelon, use half in my salad, and let people enjoy the unadulterated other half as they see fit.
As a bonus, this salad is gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, and nut-free. It can even fit into a keto diet, assuming the person balances out their other carbs for the day. The only diet that might not work well with this salad would be the low-glycemic diet for people with insulin issues; while this salad is made of plant-based whole foods, watermelons are naturally high in sugar and might not be ideal for diabetic sensibilities.
Start by chopping your watermelon in half, and then chopping the watermelon flesh into cubes roughly 1 inch in diameter. Set one half aside for your watermelon purist friends. Place the half for our salad in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the lemon juice over your watermelon. Sprinkle this mixture with half of your diced mint and salt. Stir the mixture, then sprinkle with remaining salt and mint. (This will help them distribute more evenly throughout the salad; the spices tend to stick to the watermelon pieces and are not great at mixing around if you pour them all in one spot. Kind of like introverts at a party.)
Sample the salad and add more lemon juice, mint, or salt to your taste. Once you are satisfied with the results, place in individual serving bowls or simply place a spoon into your mixing bowl so guests can serve themselves.
Even though this salad may seem adventurous, it’s a “whisk” that you won’t regret taking. If you tried this recipe at home, please let me know! Tag @WhiskAverseBaking in your posts on social media, or leave a message in the comments below.
Watermelon Mint Salad
- 1/2 seedless watermelon
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint diced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cut watermelon into cubes approximately 1 inch in diameter.
- Pour lemon juice over your watermelon.
- Sprinkle evenly with half of your mint and salt; stir to combine.
- Evenly sprinkle mixture with the remaining salt and mint before stirring again.
- Once all ingredients are evenly distributed, serve cold.