With tender arugula, crisp cucumber and red onion, creamy blue cheese, crunchy candied pecans and lots of sweet, juicy melon this Watermelon Arugula Salad is beyond delicious!
A few days ago, I mentioned a fabulous restaurant salad that Scott and I enjoyed while vacationing recently on the coast of South Carolina. I couldn't forget the delicious salad with an unusual combination of ingredients and knew I would have to recreate it. It took a bit of testing and tweaking, but I think my Watermelon Arugula Salad is now on a par with the restaurant's version.
I took this salad to a family get-together for the 4th of July. It was gobbled up and everyone loved the fabulous flavor and unusual combination of ingredients. We enjoyed it that evening with burgers from the grill, but it also pairs well with a plethora of other things. I served it a few days ago as a wonderful side with an Italian entree for some friends we had invited for dinner. When my daughter and grandchildren were visiting a few weeks ago, we paired it with juicy grilled steak. Everyone has LOVEd this Watermelon Salad!
It would also be great with ribs, chicken, shrimp, pork tenderloin... even pizza! It's one of those wonderful, fresh summery salads that gives guests wide eyes with the first delicious bite.
An unusual salad dressing.
I shared the Red Pepper Jelly Dressing for this salad last week. It takes about 5 minutes to make and is fabulous on just about any green salad, so I usually make a double batch. That way, on busy days when I need a quick dinner or when guests are coming, it's super easy to put together this Watermelon Arugula Salad or another delicious salad.
Your choice of greens
Although this is called a Watermelon Arugula Salad, you definitely don't have to use arugula. I've also made it with baby spinach and watercress as well as with a tender spring mix. Look for whatever looks freshest and prettiest at the market or grocery store.
How to choose a good watermelon
Of course, you want a sweet, juicy melon for this Watermelon Arugula Salad, but how do you pick a good melon? Here are a few tips from the experts at The Kitchn:
- Pick it up: Big or small, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size.
- Look for the yellow spot: Watermelons develop a splotch where they rest on the ground. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it’s ripe.
- Give it a thump: Tap the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound, which means it is brimming with juice and at the peak of its ripeness. Under-ripe or over-ripe melons will sound dull.
The crowning glory
Don't skip the candied pecans on this salad! They're a fabulous pairing with the creamy blue cheese, sweet juicy watermelon and the sweet, tangy salad dressing. They won't take you long to make either although they look quite fancy. Guests always rave about the pecans and I've found it's fun to have a little bag set aside to share with them when they leave!
Check out the video below to see just how easy these sweet, crunchy little guys are to make:
See what I mean? Easy!
Put this delicious Watermelon Arugula Salad on your must-make-soon list. Your family, friends and guests will think they're dining at a fine, gourmet restaurant!
Cafe Tips for making this Watermelon Arugula Salad
- I like to use a buttermilk blue cheese for this salad, as that's what the restaurant used, but any good blue cheese will work well. If you don't care for blue cheese, you might want to try a Danish Blue as it's the mildest of blue cheeses. You could also use Gorgonzola or Feta.
- Although the mint is finely chopped in this salad it does add a layer of wonderful flavor, so don't skip it!
- I like to use the mini seedless cucumbers for this salad, but you could also use the larger European cucumbers (aka English, hothouse or seedless cucumbers) and slice the larger rounds in half.
- You can use either whole pecans or pecan pieces for the candied pecans for this Watermelon Arugula salad.
- To easily transform your cucumber slices from ordinary to fancy, simply run the prongs of a table fork down the sides before slicing.
- You can either dice the watermelon or use a melon baller to scoop the melon into pretty balls as seen in the pictures above. To make perfect balls, start with the melon scooper face down on a flat surface of the melon, press down slightly, then scoop into the melon to form a ball. Repeat as many times as needed. You'll have some odd-shaped pieces left, but they're great for snacking.
- To prep this salad ahead:
- Place arugula (or other greens) in a large salad bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Slice cucumbers and place in a zip lock bag or small storage container.
- Dice or ball watermelon and place in a ziplock bag or storage container.
- Slice red onion and place in a zip lock bag or small storage container.
- Make dressing and refrigerate.
- Make Candied Pecans and store in an airtight container.
- Just before serving, chop the fresh mint and combine it in the bowl with the arugula, then follow the remaining instructions from the recipe below.
- 5 ounces arugula
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 3 cups diced or balled watermelon
- 1½ cups sliced seedless cucumber
- ½ medium red onion thinly sliced
- ¾ cup Candied Pecans
- ¼-½ cup crumbled blue cheese
- 6 tablespoons Red Pepper Jelly dressing more to taste
Just before serving, combine the arugula and mint in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing and toss lightly with two large forks or a salad tongs.
Top with the watermelon, cucumber and red onion and drizzle with 3 tablespoons more dressing. Top with the blue cheese and the candied pecans. Serve extra dressing at the table. Enjoy!
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
Nutritional information does not include the Candied Pecans and Red Pepper Jelly Dressing. See those individual recipes for their nutritional information.
Thought for the day:
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
Laura Schindler says
Needed a side dish for cook out of grilled steak and sausages. Made a couple of minor changes: substituted pecan oil for both oils, chose feta instead of blue cheese, and added blueberries on top for a red-white-blue patriotic theme. Doubled the recipe, and bowl still empty after feeding 14 people. After trying it, one person came back for a large plate of salad instead of dessert! Now that is a compliment!
One question: your photos show a side bowl of some sort of dry addition, and the salad appears to have it on the watermelon. Can you share what it is? Perhaps a salt/pepper/dry spice combination? Many thanks. So happy to have found your site. Your elegant but easy recipes fill a need in my recipe collection that i did not know it had.
Chris Scheuer says
Hi Laura, so happy you enjoyed the recipe. We love this one too!
Regarding your question, it's just pepper. It looks a little lighter because of the way that the light is hitting it.
Debbie Purser says
Fabulous salad! 10 stars!
Chris Scheuer says
Thanks so much, Debbie!
barb Bowen says
Have a wonderful trip! Look forward to hearing about your adventures! Enjoy every minute!
Chris Scheuer says
Thank you, Barb!