Watermelon Salad with Herbed Yogurt Sauce
This recipe’s title doesn’t do this beauty justice. Look at it! This watermelon salad recipe is a showstopper, if I can say so myself.
This salad starts with a base of cold, creamy herbed yogurt sauce. Then, we top it with cubed ripe watermelon, followed by crisp cucumber, lightly pickled shallot, and more fresh basil and mint.
Each element is so simple to prepare, and the end result is spectacular.
Watermelon is perfectly red and juicy this time of year, so please make this salad while you still can. It would be the perfect salad to bring to your weekend get-together.
This salad is best consumed within a couple hours of assembly. I bet your friends will be up for the challenge! Got your watermelon yet?
Watermelon Salad Ingredients
Only good, ripe watermelon will do. To reiterate: lousy watermelon makes lousy watermelon salad. You’ll need about half of a small watermelon for this recipe, and you’ll find ideas for the leftovers below.
Creamy Greek yogurt is the perfect hefty base for this salad. We’ll blend herbs, and a little olive oil and honey into it. Easy! If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the herbs finely and stir the ingredients together.
Fresh mint and basil
You could use one or the other, but the combination of mint and basil is so refreshing. We’ll blend these fresh herbs into the yogurt, and garnish the salad with a handful of extra herbs.
Cucumber offers a crisp element to this salad. I love using mini (Persian) cucumbers, since they are the perfectly bite-sized. You can also use a small cucumber—if it’s really seedy in the center, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds before slicing.
Watermelon is sweet, and savory shallots help balance the flavors. To temper their sharp flavor and texture, we’re going to lightly pickle and chill them. You’ll simply toss the sliced shallots in some vinegar (sherry or red wine) and salt, and place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
How to Make Watermelon Salad
The problem with most watermelon salads is that the second you start tossing juicy watermelon with salt, it breaks down. I bypassed that issue with this layered salad concept. No tossing!Here’s how it goes down:
Slice your watermelon, cucumber and shallot.
You’ll simply cut the watermelon flesh into small cubes, and thinly slice the cucumber and shallot. See photos for visuals.
Lightly pickle the shallots.
Stir some vinegar and salt into the sliced shallots, and let them chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Blend the herb sauce.
Combine yogurt, fresh herbs, olive oil, honey and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Blend until it’s smooth and pale green.
Assemble the salad.
You’ll need to do this on a large serving platter, so we have a large surface area to spread the yogurt across. Swirl yogurt all over the base, then top it with the watermelon, cucumber, shallots and vinegar, and a smattering of fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Enjoy!
- 3 pounds ripe seedless watermelon (about ½ small round watermelon or 4 cups cubed), cut into ¾″ cubes
- 2 mini cucumbers or 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
- ½ cup thinly sliced shallot (1 medium-to-large shallot)
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Small handful fresh mint and basil leaves, torn if large, for garnish
- Flaky sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Herbed yogurt sauce
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup lightly packed combination of fresh basil and fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- Pinch of fine sea salt