In the summer, I crave food that revitalizes me, those light, fresh, crisp, cool snacks that don’t weigh you down after eating every last bite. This watermelon, radish salad refreshes your body, energizing you with a lush combination of delicate flavors.
Whether this salad serves as your main snack or as a starter to lead into a larger feast, the flavor combinations will make it a most memorable moment in your evening. Watermelon, feta, radish, mint, and cucumber are the main players in this salad, but let’s take a look at what other ingredients give this dish such great flavor.
For The Salad
- Watermelon (cubed)
- Radish slices
- Slivered Almonds (Toasted)
For The Dressing
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Juice of Orange
Summer’s favorite treat, the watermelon shines as the star in this salad. The refreshing fruit not only paints your palette with its sweet undertones, but it hydrates you as you eat. Talk about refreshing!
Cutting The Watermelon
Cutting watermelons takes a bit of craftiness and a lot of patience. Start by holding the watermelon length-wise with your less dominant hand and using your cutting hand to remove the round top. This will provide a flat surface that you can use as the base of your watermelon. It will hold it in place as you remove the rest of your watermelon skin.
Pairing radishes with fruit takes some consideration. The bold, slightly bitter flavor of radishes melds especially well with citruses. Orange slices might make for an equally delicious and refreshing replacement in this salad.
Thinly sliced radishes add a pungent bite to the flavor of this salad. This bitter root vegetable compares in flavor to the flavor of onions, leeks, scallions, and other onion-like root vegetables.
To avoid too much bitterness, be sure to slice the radishes extremely thin. I used a very helpful tool called a mandolin slicer to ensure the cuts were slim enough. You can purchase these at a chef store or on Amazon.
The citrus dressing also works to dilute some of the bitterness. For those who are sensitive to sour and strong tastes, marinating your radishes for about 30 minutes tempers pungent flavors while upholding the radish’s crunchy texture.
Replace your radishes with Fennel, celery, or jicama to retain the crispy, cool texture of radishes with a slightly less boisterous flavor. If you love that zesty kick in your salad, but do not have any radishes, replace the radishes with purple onions, shallots, green onions, Vidalia onions, or leeks.
The theme of using light and fresh ingredients continues with revitalizing cucumbers. The cucumber’s texture rewards you with a snap followed by thirst-quenching cucumber juices.
Your cucumbers will taste better and store longer if you milk them. Check out this video for more information on the cucumber milking process.
While cucumbers keep this dish cool and refreshing, having the following ingredients on standby will make for a similarly rejuvenating experience:
- Raw Zucchini
Adding a creamy cheese to this light salad adds flavor and keeps it from feeling “too healthy.” Often, when I am not using a thick dressing like ranch, blue cheese, or honey mustard, I use creamy cheeses to implement the body and velvety texture of the dressing.
Goat cheese, blue cheese, gorgonzola, cotija, or any creamy cheese that can crumble into tiny balls over your salad will be the perfect touch to this watermelon, radish salad.
Slivered Almonds (toasted)
Watching almonds toast in a frying pan delights me. These charming nuts get slightly brown and their flavors become bolder. The toasting process also dries the nuts out, making them crunchier for the perfect addition of texture to your salad.
I am partial to the mild, slightly sweet, and nutty taste of almonds paired with cucumbers and watermelons as their flavor keeps in balance with the other light flavors, but nuts such as walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc… will work in this dish as a replacement.
In the summer, our planted mint spreads rampantly. This plant is an invasive species, so it needs to be potted and carefully maintained. Luckily, I love adding it to all kinds of dishes to brighten them and give them extra fresh flavor.
The feta paired with mint in this particular radish, watermelon salad, makes for Mediterranean merriment in your mouth. That’s right, these two ingredients are tried and true staples in the Mediterranean region. You can find them together, topping hummus, over meats and stews, in sandwiches, and other common recipes.
Herbs add such a bright, awakening flavor to your dish, making your eating feel cleaner. Somehow, the refreshing taste of herbs makes even the heaviest dishes feel lighter. Herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, sage, thyme, or rosemary could be added in place of mint.
The results of adding herbs amuses your taste buds which can be especially nice right before a meal. However, if you do not have access to any herbs, you can simply skip this step.
Oil serves as the base of most salad dressings. In keeping with our other Mediterranean flavors, I chose a bold olive oil. The oil coats your ingredients with fat, giving them more body and allowing their flavor to develop and linger more on your tongue as you eat. Basically, it makes food even more satisfying.
My top substitutions for olive oil in a dressing would have to be:
- Walnut oil
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
Oils like peanut oil, canola oil, and other common oils in your pantry can be used in place of olive oil, but I typically associate these oils with flavors that taste best when heated or cooked with other ingredients.
My best advice on this matter is to try a small batch of dressing with one of these replacement oils. If you are satisfied with the flavor, add it to your watermelon, radish salad.
When making a salad dressing, I often use the ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or other acidic liquids like citrus juices). In this recipe, I remained mostly true to this combination, but I wanted a little extra orange punch. I decided to use 3 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic with the juice of half of a large orange. This resulted in a bolder flavor, which I love.
Most kinds of vinegar add the appropriate zing of acidity to this salad, so you can switch balsamic for apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar. Some vinegar adds more bitterness to salad dressing, so taste your preferred vinegar and reduce or increase the amount added depending on your flavor preferences.
Juice of Orange
Fresh oranges add a sweetness to your salad that compliments all of your flavors and enhances them with its slight acidity. The aroma of oranges also adds extra pleasure to your senses. When you smell something so delicate yet exhilarating, indulgence seems necessary.
Though the orange’s distinctly sweet taste enriches this salad, other citruses such as lime, lemon, or grapefruit can be used in place of the orange. Other citruses develop a more sour flavor and could cover the other lighter flavors, so try adding a little at a time.
If you do not have fresh oranges, orange juice makes a comparable replacement.
A little extra sweetness goes a long way. Add just a little honey to enhance the sweetness of the watermelons and the oranges, and you have yourself a gentle sugariness that creates equilibrium amongst the other savory ingredients.
Agave or other liquid sugars and liquid sugar substitutes can be used in place of honey for a similar outcome.
While most salads do not store well, the crispy ingredients in this salad hold up to a night of refrigeration. Citruses such as orange keep ingredients from browning too quickly, so even the color of the ingredients kept its sheen.
Cucumbers do tend to create a little extra water liquid in this dish. When serving this dish after refrigeration, use a slotted spoon to drain any excess watered down flavor from the salad.
I do not suggest keeping this salad longer than one day as the fresh ingredients will lose their vigor.
Watermelon, radish salad starts meals with a light, refreshing touch that amuses your taste buds. Try serving with cheeses and a charcuterie board for the perfect snack or appetizer with cocktails.
Speaking of cocktails, this Mezcal Melonrita brings a nice punch of watermelon flavor to your mouth, making it the perfect complement to your salad.
As this lovely salad takes many of its ingredients from Mediterranean cuisine, other Mediterranean-influenced foods like fig pizza pleasantly accompany your dish, especially as a light summer meal.
I find it hard to pair the right wine with fruit, but after checking out this website, I realized that many wines taste great with melons. Barolo, Barbaresco, Vouvray, and port wine are just a few great pairings for this watermelon, radish salad.
Delightful and Light
Ultimately, this salad will find a place in your heart quickly. Light and refreshing, savory and sweet, texturally balanced, and healthy, from one delight to the next, this radish, watermelon salad will revive your taste buds with its nearly perfect composition.
- 1/8 of a Watermelon (cubed)
- 1-2 Radishes (sliced thinly)
- Cucumber (half-moon slices)
- A Hand full of Feta Cheese
- Slivered, Toasted Almonds
- About 10 Torn Mint Leaves
- 4 TBSP Olive Oil
- 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
- Juice of 1/2 of an Orange
- 1/2 TBSP Honey
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Cube and slice the watermelons, radishes, and cucumber. Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Add feta, and mint leaves and toss them together with the other ingredients.
- toast almonds and allow to cool. Add them to the salad mixture.
- Add a light sprinkling of salt over the salad ingredients.
- Mix olive oil, balsamic, the juice of 1/2 an orange, honey, salt, and pepper together to create the salad dressing.
- Do not use all of your salad dressing. Lightly coat all of your ingredients with the dressing and save the rest for a future salad.
- Serve salad and enjoy!