Juicy, refreshing summer fruit is the star of this enticingly salty-sweet chilled Watermelon Tomatillo Salad. This has so much flavor – fruity watermelon! spicy jalapeño! tart tomatillos! sweet honey! salty cheese! – yet stays light and refreshing.
We all love watermelon but how often do you dress it up and let it be the star of its own dish? Not enough!
We recently took a spin through the farmers market with visiting family, and among all the tomatoes and sweet corn, spied some juicy watermelon, then in the corner of my eye, a small box of little green jewels: tomatillos!
Are you and tomatillos acquainted yet? Are you on good terms? They are petite little green tomato cousins, usually sold in their brittle, brown husk, with a tart flavor that mellows during cooking but can be eaten raw, as well. If you haven’t tried Homesick Texan’s enchiladas verdes you’re missing out, and what’s the base of that legendary sauce? You guessed it: the humble tomatillo.
It just so happens, the tart, acidic tomatillo pairs beautifully with sweet watermelon for an unexpected and elevated summer side.
Credit for the idea goes to my sister-in-law, a creative mind in the kitchen if ever there were one. A little research, a lot of experimentation, and several batches of tomatillos and late summer watermelons later, we’ve nailed it: a keeper recipe, one to remember and bust out for summer parties and potlucks for the rest of your life.
Watermelon Salad: Tips and Tricks
Throwing together a salad like this is quick and easy, but a few tips and tricks keep the texture crisp and make the most of each flavor.
- First, slice the watermelon, remove the rind, and cut the juicy red flesh into cubes about 1″ square. (photo 1) Looking for more guidance? This watermelon how-to will help! Pro tip: Be sure to place the cubes in the fridge for, at a minimum, the time needed to prep the remaining ingredients. But if you can prep the cubes in advance and store in the fridge, do it. The extra chill time will help them stay frosty and keep a nice, firm texture.
- When ready, add sliced tomatillos, jalapeño, and shallots. (photo 2)
- Now make and add the lime honey dressing. (photo 3) You can whisk it in any small bowl or measuring cup, but if you use a small jar, it’s a no-brainer to make extra and use it to dress another salad another day. These* are a great size, or just wash out and save any small jar you get from sauce, jam, or condiments.
- Toss it all together – gently! (photo 4)
- Top with slivered fresh mint and crumbled cotija or feta cheese. (photo 5) Either has a slightly salty taste with a creamy texture that perfectly complements the other flavors here!
Some salads benefit from time to sit and let the flavors absorb, but this salad is best served right away after adding the mint and cheese.
So don’t hold back. Spoon it up and let those tastebuds sing!
What To Serve With Watermelon Salad
This makes a fantastic side to tacos, enchiladas, or literally anything pulled off the grill. A few favorite pairings:
- Honey Chipotle BBQ Chicken
- Skinny Baja Chicken Tacos
- Spicy Black Bean Tacos
- Crispy Chickpea Tacos with Sunset Slaw
- Cauliflower Walnut Chorizo Tacos with Pineapple Salsa from Pinch of Yum (this recipe will convert any cauliflower skeptic – pinky swear!)
If you make this watermelon salad or any other recipe from Nourish and Fete, please rate it and leave a comment below. We love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Chilled Watermelon Tomatillo Salad
- 4 cups watermelon chopped into 1” pieces and chilled
- 1 cup tomatillos hulled and sliced
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- a few turns freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
- 2-3 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves
- In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, tomatillo, shallot, and jalapeno. Set aside.
- In a small jar or measuring cup, combine the olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt, and black pepper. Shake vigorously or whisk to combine, then drizzle over the watermelon.
- Top with cheese and mint leaves. Serve right away.