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Watermelon, feta and arugula salad with orange vinaigrette recipe {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Watermelon, feta and arugula salad, so refreshing for summer.

When I first started cooking with Chelsea, my summer intern, I asked her what she'd like to learn to make, and what ideas of her own she'd like to test. This watermelon, feta and arugula salad was the first dish she mentioned; the taste of a sample at a grocery store had stayed with her, and she wanted to recreate it. While it was easy to remember the salad components, the dressing posed a mystery, so we decided to create our own using a navel orange, a mint leaf, and pantry staples. The counterplay of the tart orange dressing against the sweet watermelon made us happy, and though I'm not a huge fan of arugula, I loved its peppery contribution to this salad. If this is what college students are cooking, I'm going back to school.

Watermelon, feta and arugula salad, with a tangy orange vinaigrette dressing.

Watermelon, feta and arugula salad with orange vinaigrette

From the pantry, you'll need: Dijon mustard, honey, extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper.

Serves 2; can be doubled.


For the dressing:
Zest of 1/2 navel orange, plus juice of 1 orange
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large spearmint leaf
1/2 tsp honey
Pinch black pepper
Pinch kosher salt
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:
2 cups baby arugula leaves
2 cups diced watermelon
3-4 small cherry or Juliet tomatoes, diced
4 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese


In a blender, combine the orange zest and juice, mustard, mint, honey, pepper and salt. Whiz for a few seconds, and add the oil. Blend until the dressing is emulsified and the color is a pretty yellow-orange. Set aside.

Arrange half of the arugula on each plate. Top with half of the watermelon and tomatoes. Sprinkle half of the cheese on each plate, and drizzle the dressing over all. (If you have extra dressing, you can store it in the refrigerator for several weeks.)

Serve cold.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Watermelon gazpacho
Tangerine and feta salad
Beet and fennel salad
Cucumber ribbon salad
Quinoa salad with tomato, feta and parsley

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Strawberry watermelon agua fresca, from Simply Recipes
Watermelon mojito popsicles, from Endless Simmer
Watermelon rind preserves, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Grilled watermelon salad, from Recipe Girl
Thai watermelon salad, from Shutterbean

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'm not sure I'd like the mint in the dressing, but I'm game for the rest! Watermelon and feta is a great combo and I do like arugula. :-) Sounds like you and Chelsea are going to have some great recipe creation adventures! ;-)

Belated happy 4th to you both!

Love the new banner!

YUM and I love the new banner too.
I have to wonder also if this is what college students are cooking now - because when I was in college -if it didn't go into the microwave, I wasn't cooking it!

Watermelon_+arugula+feta=delicious. Add a diced avocado and it becomes one of my favorite salads. Happy summer! (and happy new birthday banner)

I love, love, love the new banner! I think it fits the feel of your blog perfectly. And I love this salad too, especially the idea of using mint in it.

Shirley, the mint isn't a dominant flavor here, but you can try parsley instead or maybe tarragon, too.

Pauline, me too!

Carol, we didn't even have microwaves. Toaster ovens were the cookie implement of choice. And we could boil water!

Trish, avocado would be a great addition. Next time -- and thanks for the suggestion.

Kalyn, the mint is great here. And I'm glad you love the banner -- I think Ximena is the next best thing to having a fabulous brother who's a designer.

Yup....me too....love the banner! :)

Someone was mentioning watermelon in salad the other day and now, I can visualize. Looks so refreshing. And, I love the mint dressing. THanks!

Love the new header! And the salad ingredients are faves. I'll look forward to trying this dressing since I've not tried the mustard/mint combo before. Sounds perfect for a hot day like today.

Love the new header! Super cute.

Using orange juice to make a vinaigrette is amazing for summer salads, and unfortunately it isn't used as much as it should be. Also, if the juice isn't particularly sweet or flavorful, you can try reducing it on the stove, cooling it then making your vinaigrette. Makes it super intense!

Great salad.

Chris, the first time I had watermelon in salad was in a Thai melon salad from an old Julia Child cookbook. I'd never done anything with it except eat it as fruit before.

Kellypea, the mint adds a nice little kick to the dressing without overwhelming it.

EB, thanks!

Riyaad, great idea to reduce the juice, especially if you have supermarket oranges.

Wow, certainly an improvement over the fare I ate in college! Good for Chelsea!

I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog!! The salad dressing with oranges is awesome. Loved your blog and your photography!! Do visit mine if you love Asian (especially Indian) food. Shall come back again very soon!

TW, Chelsea and her friends have all committed to learning more about cooking this summer, because they will have access to a kitchen during the school year. And she has adventurous taste.

Purabi, welcome. So glad you've found us.

That looks delicious!

I love all the ingredients in this salad (I just made friends with arugula recently), and there is no reason not to try it. We are finally getting some scorchers here in SoCal, and watermelon is just perfect for heat.
I love the header - the colors are beautiful:)

Another choice for dressing is reduced Balsamic Vinegar, maybe with honey to sweeten it up a little. Its great with watermelon!

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