Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Watermelon and Vegan Feta Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

Watermelon is a sign of a warm summer to come. Here’s a Watermelon and Vegan Feta Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette to serve this summer. (all photos from Deborah Brooks)

Being born and bred back east, the crack of the bat will always denote that spring is here while watermelon will forever be the sign of a warm summer to come. I still get excited when I see the fresh crop of local watermelons piled up in the market. There’s nothing like biting into a big slab of sweet, juicy watermelon on a hot day. That being said, I decided to join other chefs who have elevated the simple slice of fruit with a sweet/savory salad of my own. And it’s as delicious as it is gorgeous with a variety of tastes and textures that will compliment many summer entrées.

The key to a fabulous watermelon salad is in picking the right watermelon, wether its whole or pre-sliced. When buying a whole watermelon, look for narrow green webbing, a bright yellow spot on the skin and a melon that is heavy for it’s size. These markers will almost guarantee a sweet juicy melon. When purchasing a cut melon, look for a deep red color that seems firm and not mealy. There should be no brown discolorations on the white part of the skin. You also want the skin to be as thin as possible. I also give it a good sniff to see if it has a sweet watermelon aroma. I don’t recommend buying the chunks of precut melon in plastic tubs. You don’t know when it was cut and pieces are often sour from sitting on the shelf. Melon deteriorates quickly when cut. Plus, it’s very expensive for the amount you get.

If you’re looking for a new take on a summer side dish, I highly recommend trying this watermelon salad for simple weeknight dinners or big outdoor get-togethers.

Chef’s Tips:

  • Don’t cut the melon until ready to make the salad. Plan on serving that day. I make bite size pieces. Leftover salad does keep in the fridge 1-2 days.
  • Use a mild, buttery extra virgin olive oil for this salad. A sharp, bitter oil will overwhelm the sweetness of the melon.
  • I like the Follow Your Heart Vegan Feta for this salad as it is dry and crumbly and easy to strew. It also has a rich, salty bite. There are other vegan fetas available so choose what is convenient or what you prefer.
  • You can make the dressing ahead to let the flavors develop. The minced shallots do add a mild onion flavor. You can add as much or as little as you like, which I’ve noted in the recipe. The dressing makes more than you will probably need, depending on how large a salad you make, as it is lightly drizzled. I used a squeeze bottle to be able to control the amount of dressing. The dressing keeps several weeks so you can use leftover on tossed greens or roasted veggies.
  • The fig balsamic vinegar is richer and sweeter than traditional balsamic with a deep fruity flavor. I highly recommend investing in a bottle. This can be made with other fruit flavored balsamic vinegars if you already have them in your pantry. Orange or raspberry would be good substitutions.
  • The sweet and spicy pecans from Trader Joe’s add a good dose of heat and a fabulous crunchy bite to the salad. Use the candied pecans if you don’t want any heat.
  • I like to strew chunks of the feta and then crumble some over the melon for visual and textural contrast. Same with the mint. I place some whole leaves between the melon chunks and then finely chop a few leaves and scatter on the melon. Please see main photo for a visual.
Ingredients for Watermelon Salad

Watermelon and Vegan Feta Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

Because there is enough dressing to make a very large salad, I am simply going to give general guidelines. Figure a cup of watermelon per person. One container of feta and a bunch of mint is enough to make a very large salad.

Bite size chunks of watermelon (cut when ready to make the salad)
Follow Your Heart Vegan Feta chunks and crumbles
Whole mint leaves and finely chopped mint leaves
Trader Joe’s spiced pecans or candied pecans or a mix
Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

On flat plate or platter, the size will depend on how much you are making, spread out the watermelon chunks. Place chunks of vegan feta around the watermelon. Strew crumble feta on top of the melon. Repeat this with the whole mint leaves and chopped mint. Wedge pecans in between the melon chunks. Drizzle the vinaigrette in a ribbon pattern on the salad. Have a light hand with the dressing. You don’t want the melon swimming in dressing. I serve more on the side for guests to add. Enjoy.
Refrigerate lefrovers. Do not freeze.

Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette (Make first or ahead)

1/4 – 1/3 cup Fig Balsamic vinegar, depending on how much acid bite you like
1 T dark amber maple syrup
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1-2 tsp finely minced shallot
2/3 cup very good, buttery extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl or measuring cup whisk together the first four ingredients until well combined and the salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the oil to incorporate. Taste for seasoning. The dressing will separate so whisk up before using. I put the dressing in a plastic squeeze bottle. It’s easy to shake up before serving and makes it easier to drizzle on the salad. If using the dressing right away, leave on the counter while preparing the salad. Otherwise refrigerate until ready to use.

Ingredients for Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }