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Cucumber, Feta and Watermelon Salad: A Taste of Israel

This light, fresh watermelon salad is loaded with cucumber, feta, olives, and handfuls of leafy herbs. Parsley and mint are not only bystanders – they team up with fresh lemon to add a hit of WOW to this salad and make it an unforgettable side dish at summer barbecues and picnics.

§ ¼ of a large red onion, sliced crosswise into thin half-moons (about ½ cup of slices)

§ zest of one lemon

§ ¼ cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice (from about 1½ lemons)

§ 1 kg sweet, ripe watermelon (weight with peel), about 4½ cups cut into 2.5cm cubes

§ 1 long English cucumber

§ ¾ cup (100gms) pitted black olives

§ ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

§ 1 bunch flat-leaved parsley

§ 1 bunch mint

§ 225gms diced feta cheese (about 1½ cups), cut into 2cm dice

Slice the red onion crosswise into thin half-moons and put them into a small bowl. Zest the lemon over them and add the lemon juice, tossing the onions to coat them well. Leave them to macerate for about 15 minutes, stirring them occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Cut the peel off the watermelon and remove any black seeds. Cut the watermelon flesh into 2.5cm cubes and tip them into a large, wide salad bowl. Slice the English cucumber in half lengthwise, then use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, leaving two long canoe-shaped channels, unpeeled. Cut the halves crosswise into pencil-thick half-moon slices (you should have about 2 cups). Add these to the watermelon cubes, as well as the black olives and the pepper.

Pluck the leaves from the stems of the flat-leaved parsley (I find this very therapeutic) and add them to the salad. (Discard the stems or reserve them for the soup pot.) Pluck the mint leaves from the stems and chop the leaves (discard the stems). Add them to the salad.

Add the macerated onion with the lemon juice. Use a spatula to get all the bits of lemon zest scraped into the salad, too

Drizzle everything with the olive oil, then toss it gently with your hands.

Dice the feta cheese into 2cm cubes and add it to the salad. Toss it very lightly (your hands work best, so the cheese cubes don’t break apart.

Serves 8.

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