Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Watermelon Salad goes Viral

The owner of Guccio (late-lamented, much loved Spinone) likes to help prepare meals when he comes to stay and this year was no exception. So while Tod was having an osteo session one hot day I watched a watermelon salad being prepared for lunch for the three of us.

Tod was late, so we sat on the veranda and started without him. We chatted and ate and ate and chatted and then realised we'd eaten virtually all of the salad.  I was eyeing the nearly empty bowl when Tod came back to sample the two final mouthfuls, somewhat peeved to discover what he'd been missing.

Through this parched summer it's become our firm favourite - even usurping Hugh's delicious endive and pear salad.

The other day, we served The Salad as a starter for a lunch with friends to much acclaim and requests for the recipe. It has already gone on to other shared meals to general approval.

I had hoped to show a picture here, but overnight watermelons have disappeared and butternut squashes have arrived. Summer is definitely over.

Nevertheless, I will share the recipe while I remember it ....

Watermelon, Red Onion, Feta and Basil Salad

The ratio of red onion to watermelon is roughly one onion to half a good sized melon.


-  Half a large watermelon roughly chopped into small chunks (Lidl’s seedless melons make life easy, if not available, deseed the melon as best you can, but it's not a major problem if some seeds are left in)

-  One very thinly sliced red onion (leave the red translucent slices in their fine crescent shapes, they add impact to the salad)

-  A good big handful of basil leaves roughly chopped plus a few chopped mint leaves mixed in (not many, just there for a hint)

-  A pack (180-200gms) of feta cheese roughly cubed

- Two table-spoons of pumpkin seeds which have been lightly dry cooked in a frying pan for a few minutes til they begin to pop (they add a nice crunch to the salad and are useful if you can't get seedless melons as they disguise any residual melon seeds)

-  Good sprinkling of salt

-  Lots of black pepper

-  Balsamic velours drizzled over everything

-  Balsamic vinegar generously sloshed round

Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly together in a large bowl and enjoy.  

This should make enough for four for a starter or two to three for a light lunch.  But beware, it is VERY moreish and any later-comers to the table may find there is none left.

I fully expect to be invited to at least one lunch party next summer where this salad is served.  Indeed, it is so good, I believe it has already gone viral across the whole of the Lot & Garonne


  1. I'm going to try that...and I bet it will go viral round here too once friends taste it.
    It will make a change from my standby starter of canteloup melon, feta and mint leaves.

    1. Hello Helen, your standby starter sounds good. One for us to try. The watermelon salad really is delicious. I wonder who first thought "I know, I'll put some basil with watermelon"?

  2. It has crossed the border to the Dordogne, but what is balsamic velour? Apart from toasting pumpkin seeds it looks as if even I could manage to do this. Lesley

    1. Hello Lesley, just realised, there should be an "s" on the velours! (NB: must edit blog). Velours is a stickier, thicker form of balsamic vinegar and I love it because it really clings to the salad, whereas ordinary vinegar runs off. It's to be found in a small bottle alongside the ordinary vinegars. You might even manage the pumpkin seeds (to be found in bio shops). We have a small old heavy le creuset frying pan and they just go in that on a medium flame, to be stirred occasionally until they pop while you get on with the rest.