Watermelon Feta Salad with Sumac Dressing
Fresh, bright, and tangy, Watermelon Feta Salad with Sumac Dressing is one of the prettiest summer salads! In-season melon cubes combine with big chunks of feta into a colorful geometry of flavor. Is it more Tetris or Minecraft?
I’ve never liked watermelon and feta salads. The ones I have eaten in the past were too room temperature, too liquid-y, and too crumbled. The result was a watery, salty, hot mess of a salad.
However, I could not resist the simple beauty of this one when I spied it on Pinterest. It’s basically blocks of cheese and fruit. So, I made it. And wow what a difference to include thick and chunky blocks of feta!
Feta is a soft sheep's milk cheese that is popular throughout Greece and the Mediterranean region. Sometimes it is a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Cured in brine, the cheese has a salty and tangy flavor.
I became familiar with the cheese the first time I had spanakopita, the layered phyllo, spinach, and feta pie. What a delicious revelation that cheese wasn’t hard and yellow like the cheddar that my mom usually purchased at the military commissary. I loved the texture and the saltiness of the cheese.
Feta is creamy white in color and comes in sliced blocks submerged in brine. It also comes already crumbled and in airtight containers without brine. Although most U.S. grocery stores sell feta, many times it is cow’s milk feta.
It’s worth searching out and purchasing a block of true sheep’s milk feta. You will be glad you did. Real feta flavor is unmatchable.
Plus, it pairs so nicely with the sumac dressing.
What is Sumac
Sumac is a widely used ingredient in the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean. The berries of the sumac plant are dried and ground up into a coarse powder that is distinctively dark red. The powder is not only used as a spice but has also been used for medicinal purposes and as a natural red dye.
The ground spice is tart and tangy. Dip your finger in some sumac and do a taste test. You will find it more puckery tasting than your average lemon.
It adds a bright and astringent lemon juice-like zing without bringing additional liquid to dishes that are meaty, fatty, or moisture-prone. It's great on roasted chicken. Just a pinch sprinkled on top garnishes any dish with a pop of color, tang, and texture.
- Use any melon in this recipe. Sub in honeydew, casaba, or something available in your local area that is in season.
- The cup measurements are suggestions. Want to decrease the number of tomatoes? Do it. You’re an adult, so do what you want.
- Fresh herbs are key. I wish I could say that dried herbs are okay in this salad, but it’s not the same.
- 1 cup watermelon, cut into cubes
- 1 cup cantaloupe, cut into cubes
- 1 cup cucumber, cut into cubes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- 4 oz. block of feta, cut into cubes
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin into ribbons
- 1 Tbsp fresh mint, sliced thin into ribbons
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground sumac
- 1 Tbsp hot chili-infused honey
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Cut all your watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, and feta about the same size. It makes for a nicer presentation. If you don’t care about that, forget what I just said.
- Arrange the cubes of melon, cucumber, feta, and halved cherry tomatoes on a plate. Top with the ribbons of basil and mint, sprinkling evenly.
- Pour the lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, honey, salt, and pepper into a jar with a screw-top lid. Twist on the lid and shake until the dressing emulsifies and is combined. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve.
Keywords: watermelon feta salad with sumac dressing