Marinated Watermelon Salad with Whipped Feta Dip is a quick and easy recipe to put together. This salad recipe is the perfect appetizer or side dish to bring to summer parties for a refreshing savory bite with a tangy note. In this watermelon recipe, we transform a simple block of feta cheese into a delicious spreadable whipped feta dip just by blending it with LIA Greek premium olive oil in the food processor. We'll also teach you how to make your own Middle Eastern spice mix, and some good to know facts about sumac.
Hello my friends. I hope you’re hungry today because we are crafting a restaurant-quality appetizer of marinated watermelon salad with feta dip. You read that correctly; marinated, watermelon.
These days I can’t stop thinking of ways to use watermelon in savory dishes and now it just feels wrong to stop. Watermelon might very well be the next big thing. It’s incredibly versatile and lends itself to all kinds of flavor combinations. When something is as fresh, enticingly sweet, and noble as watermelon, you know you have to make the most out of it.
If there’s a more gastronomic fruit than watermelon, I don’t know what it is. Watermelon is remarkably versatile. You can make everything with it! You can grill it, dice it, and toss it in salads, or marinate it for a sweet and savory appetizer like we’re doing today. We’re going to marinate it and pair it with creamy whipped feta dip. How does that sound? Let's see how it’s done.
You can infuse watermelon with ease. You just have to soak it in vinegar and your favorite aromatics to make it even tastier than it already is. Shallots, pink peppercorns, and ginger are the order of the day, and the result is fabulous. We’ll use a simple technique that you can also use later to infuse other fruits with your preferred spices.
In a medium bowl, you’ll whisk together champagne vinegar, minced shallot, grated ginger, and high quality extra virgin olive oil. We prefer LIA Greek EVOO which we have available in our online shop. Season the marinade with some sea salt to taste. But remember, the feta cheese in this recipe will add a layer of salt, and at the end we will sprinkle some flaky sea salt like Natural Sea Salt Flakes from Greece on top. So be careful. Place the watermelon in a large resealable bag or large shallow dish and pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
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Making Your Own Middle Eastern Spice Mix
If you’ve followed Spoonabilities from the start, you know I love experimenting with different combinations of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern flavors and techniques. Now that I’ve revisited this spice mix recipe, mainly because of my recent watermelon obsession, I think it’s finally time to share it with you.
This particular spice mix is fairly simple. Toast both pink peppercorns and black peppercorns in a pan for about two minutes until they become fragrant. Once they cool a little, put them in a spice grinder and grind them to a powder. Add the peppercorn mix to sumac and cayenne, and you’re all set.
What is Sumac Anyway?
- Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice made of dried and ground berries, and the name literally means ‘red.’
- Many chefs use sumac for its bright burgundy color, almost as a garnish, but the berries have a delightful tang.
- Sumac grows in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern warm areas, such as Turkey, Sicily, and Iran.
- This is one of those spices that you never knew you needed, and then when you get your hands on it, you can’t live without it, and you want to use it on everything!
- Use sumac as a dry rub for grilled meat; that’s how they make kebabs. Add it to all that needs an acidic kick, such as seafood, hummus, salad dressings, and, you guessed it vinegar-infused watermelon.
- Remember, tartness contrasts sweetness, balances fat, and lifts the flavor of almost anything, whether it’s vinegar, lemon, or sumac. That’s a pro tip that can improve your cooking fast and easy.
Preparing the Whipped Feta Dip
This marinated watermelon is tasty enough on its own, but to complete the dish, we need a contrasting element. When placed over a whipped feta dip with a lot of fresh herbs, you’ve got yourself a complete, restaurant-quality dish. This part is so easy, so pay attention or you’ll miss it. Take some feta cheese, preferably Greek, and puree it in a food processor until smooth. While the food processor is on, drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil. That’s it.
Now you have all the components for this watermelon salad with feta dip. Let’s get on with it and pickle some watermelon. This marinated watermelon will sweep you off your feet, and I hope you get a chance to make this dish. Did you make this or another one of our recipes? Tag @Spoonabilities on Instagram so we can find you! And we love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Do you want to see more salad recipes?
- Summer Antipasto Salad in a Jar
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Tuna, Artichoke & Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Greek Salad Recipe with Feta Mousse
- Summer Stone Fruit Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
Your Recipe Concierge!
For this marinated watermelon salad with feta, we infuse the watermelon for 30 minutes with a marinade of vinegar, shallots, and ginger. This savory fruity salad is a satisfying starter that, combined with creamy whipped feta, becomes a show-stopper. Middle-East spice mix and fresh herbs are the last touches to a near-perfect fruit-based dish.
Inspired by a recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.
- 2 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1 small shallot, minced
- One 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 3 Tablespoons LIA Extra Virgin Olive Oil available in our online shop
- ½ teaspoon Sea Salt (see notes) available in our online shop
- One 5-pound seedless watermelon, cut into 4" x 1" rectangles without the rind
- 1 Tablespoon pink peppercorns
- 1+½ teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
Whipped Feta Dip:
- 1-pound feta cheese, preferably Greek
- ¼ cup LIA Extra Virgin Olive Oil available in our online shop
- ⅓ cup lightly packed torn basil leaves
- ⅓ cup lightly packed torn mint leaves
- ⅓ cup lightly packed chopped tarragon leaves
- Flaky sea salt like Natural Flaky Greek Sea Salt available in our online shop
- Whisk together the vinegar, minced shallot, grated ginger, and three tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil in a medium bowl. Season the marinade with sea salt (read the note below about the salt first). Place the watermelon in a large resealable bag or large shallow dish and pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Toast the pink and black peppercorns in a small frying pan at moderately high heat until fragrant, about two minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the peppercorn to a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer the ground peppercorn mix to a small dish and combine it with the sumac and cayenne.
- Puree the feta in a food processor until smooth. While the food processor is on, drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil.
- Spread the whipped feta dip on a round or oval platter. Using a slotted spoon or a spatula, remove the watermelon from the marinade and arrange it on the feta.
- Drizzle with some of the marinade and generously sprinkle with the Middle-East spice mix. Garnish with the herbs and sea salt.
Salt in the marinade: Season to your taste. The suggested amount is to my taste. Remember, the feta cheese is salty and will add another layer of salt. Also, at the end, you will sprinkle on top some flaky sea salt.
- Prep Time: 20
- Category: Salad
- Method: Marinate
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: Marinated Watermelon, Summer Salad, Whipped Feta, feta dip, feta mousse, Middle Eastern Spice Mix
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