This watermelon salad gets a Mexican makeover with crunchy toasted pepitas, salty queso fresco, fresh cilantro and a tangy lime vinaigrette. Serve with tacos or any grilled meat for an easy Mexican feast!
Montreal has never been the Mecca of Mexican food by any means, but more and more options have been springing up in recent years. One is an unpretentious, casual little restaurant in our neighborhood called La Tamalera. They have great tacos, but my favorite thing about this place is a watermelon salad I order every single time.
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It has crunchy toasted pepitas, salty queso fresco, a few greens and a tangy vinaigrette. I inquired about the recipe the first time I had it years ago, and our waitress was kind enough to tell me exactly what was in it. Predictably, I promptly forgot what she said, but recently I was craving this fresh, sweet, and crunchy summer salad and I decided to try and re-create it at home from memory. It totally hit the spot!
I feel like watermelon salad recipes are super popular these days, but if you haven’t tried one, you are missing out. So let’s make this salad!
Choose the right watermelon
First, start by picking the right watermelon. Choosing a watermelon is a bit of an art, but this post has some great tips on what to look for.
For an easy visual tip, a ripe and ready watermelon will have a large yellowish patch on one side of it from sitting on the ground as it ripened. As with most produce, another sign of ripeness is that it feels heavy for its size.
How to make a watermelon salad
Once you have the perfect watermelon, start by chopping it up into 1/2 inch pieces. Next, toast some pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) in a pan with a little oil and salt.
Whisk together a simple vinaigrette and toss the with the watermelon, pepitas, some crumbled salty cheese (such as queso fresco or feta), greens, fresh cilantro, and a little red onion. I used arugula for the greens, because I had it on hand, but most anything you have will work here.
What to serve with a watermelon salad
Since this salad had a Mexican twist, I served it with these blackened fish tacos. Other tacos, like these al pastor-style beef tacos, or these chicken tacos with cilantro-lime slaw would be great too. This would also be terrific alongside grilled chicken, or any grilled meat or fish.
Or serve it on its own with a toasted baguette for a light lunch!
Sound good to you? If you make this recipe, I would be thrilled if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Or pin for later!
Mexican Watermelon Salad
- 2 cups watermelon cut into 1/2 cubes
- 1/2 cup raw pepitas
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups arugula or other greens
- 1/2 cup queso fresco or feta crumbled
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and add the pepitas and salt. Toast the pepitas, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, and set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, gently toss the watermelon with the greens, pepitas, cheese, cilantro, onion, and dressing until combined. Serve immediately.