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Watermelon, Feta and Charred Pepper Salad

Best New Chefs 2014 Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern update the classic combination of watermelon, feta and olives with smoky charred shishito peppers, fresh herbs and spicy Korean red chile powder.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4 to 6

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  • 1 pound seedless watermelon, cubed (1-inch pieces; from one 3 1/4-pounds watermelon)

  • 2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice

  • 1/4 cup very thinly sliced red onion

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean chile powder) or Aleppo pepper

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 20 medium shishito peppers (4 ounces)

  • 20 pitted kalamata olives, halved

  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled

  • 1 cup lightly packed watercress leaves

  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill


  1. In a large glass or ceramic baking dish, gently toss the watermelon, cucumbers, red onion, vinegar, gochugaru and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Spread in an even layer and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the shishitos and cook over high heat, tossing, until charred in spots and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shishitos to the baking dish and toss.
  3. Transfer the salad to plates and garnish with the olives, feta, watercress, cilantro and dill. Serve right away.

Suggested Pairing

Robust, berry-scented rosé.

Contributed By Photo © John Kernick Published July 2014

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