Watermelon and Watercress Salad

September 10, 2006 at 8:21 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Quick weeknight recipe, restaurant inspired, Salads, Summer recipes)

At Kaya this week I ordered a watermelon and watercress salad, topped with a very mild creamy feta and a ginger dressing. The combination was new to me, and surprisingly delicious. The peppery watercress was very noticeable, and went well with the sweetness of the melon, and the salty creaminess of the feta. The dressing was tasty, but I could barely detect any ginger–it was not a greasy dressing at all, but maybe it was watered down by the melon juice. I liked the salad so much I decided to crack open the watermelon I bought from Rick at the Oakland Market and try my hand at my own watermelon and watercress salad.

  • 4? cups watermelon, small dice
  • 2 bunches watercress, with stems, coarsely chopped
  • ginger vinaigrette
  • feta, crumbled (I used a creamy Israeli feta from Stamooli’s in the strip)

I grated about 2 Tbs. of a very fresh and mild ginger, and combined it with 1 Tbs. of olive oil and 1 Tbs. of canola oil, plus a few Tablespoons of assorted vinegars: champagne, rice, and apple cider, plus a sprinkle of salt. I couldn’t figure out which vinegar was right–none tasted quite acidic enough for me, so I just kept adding more.

Spoons thought the dressing tasted somewhat Japanese, and suggested adding toasted sesame oil to it. Another guest thought it was taboulleh–she thought the watermelon was tomatoes and the watercress was parsley!

This dish needs a bit of work to figure out all the measurements and get the balance right, but it has a lot of promise. The basic combo of watermelon, watercress, and ginger is delightful.

I was curious if this combo was invented at Kaya. A quick google search reveals a cornucopia of recipes for salads that include watermelon and watercress. One blog states that it’s a pretty typical Greek combination. One recipe from Bon Appetit for
watermelon and watercress salad with ginger
got impressively high reviews. The recipe also includes cucumber, green onions, garlic, lime peel, and cilantro. Other recipes I found called for a variety of ingredients including red onion, lime juice, sugar, parsley, shallots, chervil, almonds, sesame oil, raspberry vinegar, pine nuts, basil, and mint. In general I’d like to keep this recipe simple, but I might try adding lime juice since lime and watermelon go very well together.

Rating: B+
Derek: B+

Update July 2013:

Watermelon, arugula, and feta salad with a ginger vinaigrette

We made this salad for dinner tonight, except we can (almost) never get watercress here, so we used a mix of arugula and radicchio instead.

  • 1.25 pounds of diced watermelon (about 4 cups of diced watermelon)
  • 5 ounces of arugula
  • 2 ounces of radicchio
  • 4 ounces of feta, crumbled
  • ginger vinaigrette (see recipe below)

For the dressing I used:

  • 27g of ginger pulp (from an approximately 1-inch piece of ginger grated on a microplane grater)
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5-2 Tbs. brown rice vinegar
  • 1 pinch of salt

It made 4-5 large salads.  Both Derek and I enjoyed it.  I missed the intense pepperiness of the watercress, but the other bitter greens worked reasonably well.  For the recipe to climb to an A rating I think it needs a little something extra.  Maybe something with a bit of crunch.  Ideas?

Rating: B+
Derek: B+


  1. tgrinovich said,

    Where is this restaurant, Kaya, that you refer to?

  2. captious said,

    Kaya is a restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  3. Appoggiatura said,

    Add some cucumber to your combination, and you’ve got heaven!! Sounds wonderful.

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