Watermelon tomato salad – cold, crunchy, sweet and somewhat sour with a whisper of spice, what could be better when the mercury is touching 43℃? I’m sure you’ve seen many versions of a watermelon tomato salad, this is my take on this hit summer salad.
Pick your tomato
A generous tomato harvest prompted me to make this salad. So I used the small, extremely juicy variety of tomatoes that grow in my garden. You can choose cherry tomatoes or the commonly available, larger hybrid tomatoes or any other varieties that you like. Just chop them to match the cubed watermelon pieces. My smaller tomatoes were just halved (slightly larger ones were quartered. I also didn’t remove the seeds and pulp since the seeds were soft and the pulp is most of the tomato. Larger seeds must be removed. In short, adapt the salad to your produce.
Summer dressing for your salad
In a watermelon and tomato salad, the refreshing flavours of the fruit must be front and centre but the dressing helps elevate the dish by building additional layers of flavours. I used Mediterranean-inspired ingredients to bring a light, brightness to the palate. So this dressing doesn’t dominate the salad, but rather anoints it in a wispy sprinkling of dressing. Extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, smashed garlic, muddled tomatoes, a hint of ground cumin, paprika, black pepper and salt go into the dressing that completes this watermelon tomato salad. A few tomatoes coarsely pounded to release their juice, are added to the dressing and along with the EVO and garlic, bring some of that sunshine of southern Italy to the dish.
How to keep your salad fresh and crunchy
Salads can be simple but they’re easy to mess up. Most salads need to be assembled just when ready to serve, in order to retain their crunch. Only a few salads require marinating in the dressing to soften or wilt. This one is not one of them. Follow these steps so that you have a bright, crunchy and cold salad without any last minute work.
- Chop the watermelon and tomatoes a couple of hours ahead of time and store them separately in closed containers in the fridge. They should be chilled when you serve the salad.
- Make the dressing as much as a day ahead if you like and store in a closed container in the fridge.
- Pick the mint leaves, wash and dry them, ensuring they don’t tear. Mint leaves bruise easily and turn black, so handle them gently.
- When you’re ready to serve, put the chopped watermelon and tomatoes in a large salad bowl, pour most of the dressing over and toss with a gentle hand. Decant into your serving dish, sprinkle the mint leaves and the remaining dressing over the salad and serve.
Watermelon Tomato Salad
- 500 g watermelon, seeds removed and cubed
- 25 cherry tomatoes
- A handful of fresh mint leaves
For the dressing
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove grated or smashed
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
- ½ tsp paprika or chilli powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
- De-seed the watermelon cut into cubes and chill in the fridge.
- Halve or quarter the tomatoes (depending on their size), remove the seeds and pulp and chill in the fridge.
- Wash and dry the mint leaves.
- To make the dressing, place 4 cherry tomatoes, garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pulverise till you have a juicy pulp.
- Put the tomato pulp, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cumin powder, paprika, ground pepper, chopped coriander and a little more salt in a bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside.
- Put the cold watermelon and tomato in a large bowl, pour most of the dressing over and gently toss. Transfer to the serving bowl / platter, scatter the mint leaves over the salad and drizzle the remaining dressing over.