a summery salad: vine-ripened tomato and watermelon salad

Every summer since my daughter was born, we have spent a glorious week in the summer vacationing in – or very near – Seaside, Florida. If you recall The Truman Show with Jim Carrey, Seaside was the perfect little  town where the movie was set. Seaside is right on the Gulf of Mexico, and most of the cottages are just a block or two or three off of the pristine white sand beaches. Well, at least they were pristine. Until the oil spill happened. Last summer we ate at Fish Out of Water, in the neighboring Watercolor Resort, for the first time. My sister-in-law and her family were vacationing with us, and they agreed to babysit our kids one evening so Sam and I could have at least one meal out by ourselves. Fish Out of Water had been on my wish-list of restaurants, so we finally had our chance.

tomato and watermelon salad | the merry gourmet

My first course was an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad. After one bite – a salty-sweet bite with juicy tomato and watermelon in a to-die-for vinaigrette – I was in heaven. I asked our waiter if he knew the recipe, and he didn’t. Recently I emailed the restaurant to see if the chef would be willing to share it, but I haven’t had any reply yet. So, until I get my hands on their recipe, I decided to experiment a bit. This salad was a good approximation, but the vinaigrette is not what I remembered. I wanted to use heirloom cherry tomatoes, but I used vine-ripened regular tomatoes instead since there were no heirlooms to be found. Some basil and a touch of feta, and the salad was delicious. The right amount of sweet and salty, incredibly juicy, and perfectly refreshing.

tomato and watermelon salad | the merry gourmet

tomato and watermelon salad | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 4-6.

Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

I've listed amounts for the salad ingredients, but truthfully, this is a salad that doesn't need to be precise. If you like more tomatoes, add more. If you like more watermelon, add more. If you prefer cherry tomatoes instead of regular, those would be great, too.


Ingredients for Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Ingredients for Salad

3 cups cubed watermelon, seeds removed
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and seeded, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup feta (or more or less, depending on your taste)


Make vinaigrette: Mix vinegar and minced garlic in bowl. Whisk in olive oil, then whisk in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add watermelon, tomatoes, and torn (or chopped) basil leaves to bowl. Sprinkle with feta. Toss gently with the vinaigrette and let sit for at least 10 minutes or so before serving to allow the flavors to deepen.

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16 Responses to “a summery salad: vine-ripened tomato and watermelon salad”

  1. 1

    Looks absolutely amazing! I love that combo of sweet and salty too and might have to try this one very soon 🙂 Perfect for this weather we’ve been having.

  2. 2
    Gail — July 5, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

    LOVE the new look of the site! And, this salad looks refreshingly delicious. Perfect remedy for these hot days we’re having. I’ll bet you could use a raspberry vinegar. Sounds weird, but I’ll bet it could work, too.

  3. 3
    SMITH BITES — July 5, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

    Love the new look and love the salad even more! Watermelon is one of my favorite things to eat in the summer – cool, light, refreshing and sweet all rolled into one!

  4. 4
    rebecca — July 5, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    wow this salad is wonderful for summer great site


  5. 5
    WritingLeigh — July 5, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

    I may not like tomatoes by themselves, but I guarantee you I’d be a fan of this. Also, I love the new site design!

  6. 6
    marilyn — July 5, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

    This looks wonderful, will be making this during the week, we are starting a 95+ heat wave here in Massachusetts

  7. 7

    There is nothing more refreshing in the summer than tomatoes and watermelon. I’d never thought to put the two together, but this looks incredible!

  8. 8
    bunkycooks — July 5, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

    The hot weather is going to continue (and even get worse!) in the South next week, so I will remember this salad. I am sure it is very refreshing on a hot day.

  9. 9

    LOVE the new site! And this looks delicious. Kudos for goin’ all out to recreate that salad!



  10. 10
    Magic of Spice — July 7, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    Looks wonderful…I am sure your rendition is superb:)

  11. 11
    Kathleen Seide — July 7, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    I saw you mention this one on facebook – I decided to try making it tomorrow for our out-of-town guests. They are visiting from Scotland, so this should be an unusual treat ; )

  12. 12
    Jason Phelps — July 19, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    We have a friend who makes something similar to this. I’ll have to ask where the recipe came from.


  13. 13
    Cucee Sprouts — October 19, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

    Basil and watermelon – yummy!!! Have you tried pairing it with oregano – also a delicious variations: Chile-Roasted Feta and Watermelon Slab http://cuceesprouts.com/2010/10/chile-roasted-feta-and-watermelon-slab/

  14. 14
    Joy — June 27, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Such a beautiful salad. I love chasing those perfect meals in my own kitchen. I nearly cried when I found the recipe for mine, tucked into an unassuming cookbook on my dad’s bookshelf this whole time. Have you tried grilling the tomatoes and watermelon? I saw it done once and it looked fabulous (much like your salad).

  15. 15
    debra — June 17, 2012 @ 1:20 am

    discovered this site yesterday and i made this salad for a Father’s day brunch at work today. absolutely amazing!!! i was out of champagne vinegar so i substituted 2 parts red wine vinegar and 1 part Vermouth cooking wine (i am not good at substituting) 5 stars.

    • 15.1
      Merry-Jennifer — June 17, 2012 @ 8:30 am

      I’m so happy to hear that it worked out well for you!

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