Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint


Few things say summer like watermelon. Jacques Pépin's staple warm-weather salad combines sweet melon and cool mint with savory olives, onion, and feta cheese.

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins
12 servings

This easy watermelon salad is ideal for eating outside under the warm sun. Watermelon and mint are refreshing and flavorful, while briny olives and feta offer savory counterpoints. Although chef Jacques Pépin cuts a small, seedless watermelon into rounds with a melon baller (adding the trimmings to the salad, too, so as not to waste them), you can chop any size watermelon into cubes if you prefer.

Peak watermelon season varies by state in the U.S., when you can generally find the tastiest melons from May to September. How do you select the sweetest, juiciest one for the best feta and watermelon salad with mint? Unfortunately, there's no way to know exactly how sweet a watermelon is until you cut into it. Sweetness can vary based on the type of watermelon and weather conditions, but there are some key things to look for in your quest for watermelon gold.

First, as with most fruits, avoid choosing a melon with dents, cuts, or bruises. Speaking of spots, though, you do want your watermelon to have a pronounced yellow or nearly orange field spot, not one that's white, green, or pale yellow. This is the part of the melon that sat on the ground as it grew, and a vibrant color indicates that the watermelon is ripe. Don't be wooed by a shiny melon! A dull, matte exterior is another sign of ripeness. Also, a brown, shriveled stem usually means the melon was not harvested prematurely but left to fully ripen before being picked.

Since watermelons are more than 90% water, you'll want to select one that seems heavy for its size — water has weight, and juicy is what you're after. When it comes to flavor, go for a watermelon that's rounder and evenly shaped as opposed to one that's more oval.


  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (8-pound) seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller or cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (10 cups), chilled

  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)

  • 1 1/4 cups pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (optional)

  • 1 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves


  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

    Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco, and pepper.

    Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

    Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the watermelon, feta, olives, and onion; toss gently.

    Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

    Julia Hartbeck

  4. Garnish with the mint and serve.

    Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

    Julia Hartbeck

Suggested pairing

For the ultimate summer pitcher drink, try a rosé sangria.

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