Friday, March 21, 2014

Spicy Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Basil

Lately I've been buying fresh basil and putting it in everything. I should grow it on our balcony, but even small balcony herb pots seem to falter under my not-green thumb : ( Luckily the local fruit and veg shop stocks a great array of well-priced fresh herbs, and I find a couple of dollars a good investment for the flavor and nutrition boost they bring to any dish.
baked oven fried chicken, smashed garlic potatoes,
and spicy watermelon cucumber salad with basil
It's still warm here in Sydney even though we've moved into autumn, so we're taking advantage of the heat to eat up the end of summer produce and barbeque inspired dinners. A few weeks ago we made up some baked oven fried chicken, which turned out crisp and tender, some smashed roasted garlic potatoes, and this refreshing watermelon cucumber salad. I added a good handful of chopped basil along with some rocket (arugula) for extra bite, and tossed the salad with a spicy vinaigrette made with Cholula hot sauce. AMAZING. The spicy dressing (no salt necessary) went perfectly with the cool watermelon and cucumber, and before I noticed the hubs was helping himself to thirds of the salad, without any thought of the extra chicken and potatoes sitting in the oven. Win.
watermelon, cucumber, arugula, and basil salad with a Cholula-lime vinaigrette
A tip on chopping the cucumbers: I sliced sections off of the cucumber lengthwise, leaving the seed-y core, and discarded the core before cubing the cucumber. This allows the salad to keep for a little longer before losing its crispness. The salad was still nice and crisp on day two after being stored in the fridge overnight. This is obviously a warm-weather recipe, but I hope you'll file it away to make when the temperatures rise in your corner of the world. Warm wishes to all of you in the northern hemisphere as the first day of Spring arrives.

Spicy Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Basil
serves 4-5 as a side dish
inspired by this recipe at The First Mess

1 cup seedless watermelon cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cucumber cut into 1/2-inch cubes (discard the seed-y core)
handful of fresh basil, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup rocket (arugula), rough chopped

Spicy Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons Cholula or other mild hot sauce, to taste
juice of half a lime
little splash of apple cider vinegar, to taste (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon honey
big pinch of freshly ground pepper

In a large non-metal bowl, carefully toss together the watermelon, cucumber, basil, and rocket.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients with a whisk or fork, stirring vigorously until the mixture is emulsified (blended together). Add more Cholula and/or vinegar as necessary. Pour the dressing over the salad, and carefully toss to distribute evenly. Serve immediately.

Salad will keep, covered in the fridge, for about 2 days.


  1. This looks great! I have never tried watermelon in salad. I am intrigued!


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