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Summer has officially arrived, and watermelon season is here. Watermelon is a fantastic food on a summer day—juicy and sweet yet loaded with hydration, nutrients, and fiber. This dish makes a refreshing and delicious salad.

Summer 2019 in Greece, I tried a variation of this salad for the first time, and now I look forward to preparing it when watermelons are at their peak.

The feta cheese and spicy chili are optional ingredients that add a whole extra dimension of flavor. Whether to add some chili heat to this dish is up to you. Some people love this salad with added heat, others not at all; if unsure, then try a little on the side to clarify which you prefer.

I prefer English cucumbers in this dish as they have less seeds and a thinner skin, although any cucumber will do.

Chef’s Note—How to Pick a Great Watermelon: Picking a sweet and juicy watermelon with just the right crunch is a bit of a challenge. Here are seven tips to make finding a great watermelon more successful:

  1. First check to see that the skin is free of scratches, bruises, and dents, which are signs that it may have been damaged or punctured.
  2. It should be symmetrical without lumps or bumps. Irregularly shaped watermelons likely had inadequate sunshine and/or water.
  3. The watermelon should have a dark green, dull color. A shinny surface color suggests that it is not ripe.
  4. It should also have a field spot. This will be a yellow splotch on the underside of a watermelon where it lied on the ground. Ideally, the spot should be a creamy yellow color. The darker the yellow, the sweeter the melon.
  5. It should not have a stem. When watermelons become ripe they drop the stem. A watermelon with the stem attached may have been picked before it was ripe.
  6. Gently knock on the watermelon like knocking gently on a door. A ripe watermelon should have a full, deep, and hollow sound. An under-ripe melon will make a duller one. Feel the surface when you knock on it as well. It should be firm to the touch—a soft watermelon may be mushy on the inside.
  7. Lastly, pick it up and feel its weight. It should feel heavy for its size because it is full of water, meaning that it is ripe and juicy.


Serves: Six (Makes 7-8 cups)

Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes


5 cups watermelon, peeled, cubed (or use a melon baller to make melon balls)

1 medium to small English cucumber, cubed

1 small red onion red onion, cut into thin slices

20 fresh mint leaves, chopped

12 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 Jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced (optional)


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Optional Garnish

1/2 cup cubed feta cheese (sliced into 1/2-inch cubes)


Combine watermelon, cucumber, red onion, mint, and basil in a salad bowl.

Whisk dressing and mix with the salad.

Garnish with feta cheese.

If you are taking this dish to a party (great for a picnic). Keep it refrigerated or on ice and add the dressing and feta cheese just prior to serving.


Steven Masley, MD

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