Watermelon & Feta with Arugula

This is a quick and easy salad that offers a very refreshing addition to any summer meal. It is even great as an entire meal unto itself. The sweetness of the watermelon, the saltiness of the feta and the bitterness of the arugula leaves you with a complete bite in each mouthful. It is important to use solid Feta, cubed to the same size as the watermelon, not only for the look, but to offer a balanced fork or spoonful. When shooting for a range of 1/3 fats, 1/3 carbs & 1/3 proteins in your daily macro intake, this dish is almost perfectly balanced. It has my vote for a “Perfect Bite”.

The longest amount of time in preparation is cubing the watermelon. If you start with a small “personal” watermelon it takes less time, is not quite as watery and you won’t have a ton of watermelon left over to store. It is important to drain the watermelon after cubing it. You want the extra juices to run out before mixing it with the other ingredients, and watering down the dressing. While this dish does have more fat than other recipes we have created you don’t have to eat a lot to get the satisfaction of a “perfect bite”. We think the macronutrient breakdown is worth it.

Take this salad to a potluck and come home with a clean bowl! No one sees this coming, and when they look at it they are skeptical, but the taste of this salad does all the talking. It can be dressed with either lemon and fresh basil, or lime and fresh cilantro, which is what we are suggesting in this recipe. For fun experiment with the seasoning you use. If you like it hot, red pepper flakes are a great addition, or if you’re very daring thinly sliced jalapeno peppers. When going with lime/cilantro a little cumin is a nice touch, especially when paired with a Mexican main dish. 

We have opted for the cleanest version of this combination as it is the most refreshing in the heat. If you add more Arugula (11oz.) in a larger salad the result is something that more resembles what everyone thinks of as a salad. If you opt for the smaller amount of Arugula (5.oz.) it almost becomes a garnish making the watermelon and feta the real stars. For large crowds the more Arugula forward version is much friendlier to the budget as buying multiple pounds of good fresh feta can become expensive. And do, get the freshest feta you can find.

This recipe is for approximately 10 servings (roughly 1.5 cups of salad per serving). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 small Watermelon, Cubed to about ½ inch. (approx. 6 cups of watermelon)
  • 1 lb. Solid Feta Cheese, Cubed to about ½ inch. (approx. 4 cups of feta)
    • (Vegan options are listed below)
  • 1 bag fresh Baby Arugula (5 oz. for small salad 16 oz. for large)
  • 1 bunch fresh Cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. Lemon Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • (If you cannot find this item use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 3 cloves of very finely minced garlic)
  • Freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • 2 limes, squeezed for the juice (only use fresh)

Directions:

  • Cut Watermelon into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Drain watermelon in a colander for a couple of hours in the fridge after cubing.
  • Cut Feta into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Thoroughly dry Arugula after washing
  • In a large bowl combine watermelon, feta, and arugula. 
  • Toss carefully as to not breakup feta. 
  • Drizzle with olive oil, and then squeeze limes all over. 
  • When fully dressed add freshly chopped cilantro and pepper to taste. 
  • If you like it hot, red pepper flakes or jalapenos can be added at this point , lightly sprinkled on top.

There is simply no need for any salt. The feta takes care of that all by itself. I have had friends add a thinly sliced onion to their salad, and if you do that make sure you use either a red onion or a good fresh Vidalia. I personally prefer the salad without the onion. It is a simpler salad, a better look, and I think a cleaner taste.

It is very important to use the whole feta, cubed. If you cheat and get crumbled feta you have defeated the purpose of the perfect bite. There simply isn’t enough cheese to get that WOW factor. I have had several people do that when sharing this recipe and they wanted to know why it didn’t come out as fabulous – it was the crumbled feta.

This salad is best served as cold as possible, but it sits well for hours on a buffet, on your dinner table, or at a picnic.

Macronutrients:

Per serving (1.5 cups or 1/10 whole batch) –  170 calories 

  • Fat – 9.4 grams 
  • Carbohydrates – 11.2 grams 
  • Protein – 10.5 grams

Micronutrients:

  • Cholesterol –         24 mg 
  • Sodium –             549.2 mg
  • Dietary Fiber –         .7 g
  • Sugar –                   7.4 g
  • Calcium –                19%
  • Iron –                        4%
  • Potassium –         164.6 mg
  • Vitamin A –          21.8%
  • Vitamin C –           3.3%

Vegan & Vegetarian Alternatives

This dish is perfectly suited to become Vegan, just don’t add the cheese. There are vegan cheeses that will work perfectly well, or in a pinch firm tofu. What you want to pay attention to in a vegan cheese is the color, texture and tartness. If you are using tofu you want to do something to make it tangy and tart before using it. Try marinating it in lemon juice, garlic and a little Ponzu the day before, then drain before adding to the salad. Vegetarians who eat cheese are good to go. If dairy is not your thing, in general, try the Vegan options and you will still enjoy the combination of flavors very much.

ENJOY THIS WONDERFUL PASTA, IT IS A GARLIC LOVERS PARADISE

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