Once summer comes rolling around I start scarfing down melons by the kilo. Honeydew or Galia, cantaloupe and giant juicy watermelons – all melons are good if you ask me. Yet, while I love fruit, I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth on the planet and I do really appreciate a combination of sweet fruits and salty things – you know, some fruit and cheese combo or a fruit and prosciutto type of deal.
I think almost everybody has tried, or at least heard of, the heavenly combination of cantaloupe or honeydew melons and Italian prosciutto di Parma, whilst watermelon and feta have also become very popular over the past couple of years (and probably has been here in Greece for a while). And, of course, there’s the classic simple combination of watermelon with just a sprinkle of salt, or ground or crushed chili flakes. For this spicy melon and feta salad here, I obviously didn’t really want to choose one flavour in particular, but I’ve left out the prosciutto this time for a vegetarian version (though you are welcome to add it, or try out this apricot prosciutto and burrata salad here instead, if you were craving some ham).
I’ve used a combination of watermelon, cantaloupe and some other Greek melon variety (‘Argitiko’ in Greek, but not sure what it is in English) I found at the farmer’s market here in Athens, but this salad is really good with just watermelon and/or cantaloupe alone too. I’ve also added cucumber, which may sound weird, but is actually not that strange. Since cucumber and melon are basically siblings, they go really well together and I believe the cucumber adds another level of juicy crunch, without adding too much sweetness to the already sweet fruits. The rest? Oh. Just most of the things I’ve already mentioned above plus some extra flavourings. Spicy crushed chili flakes for heat (my flakes are made from a combination of different dried chilies, some very spicy, some fruity, but use whatever type you prefer), feta and salt for savouriness, arugula for a slightly peppery crunch, lime for tanginess, and some toasted sunflower seeds for nuttiness and something to chew on. A perfect summer fruity salad that makes for a great side, light lunch or dinner… and I suppose dessert too!
Spicy Melon Salad with Cucumber and Feta
- 800g melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, or a mix)
- 200g cucumber, peeled
- 50g baby arugula
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of one lime + zest
- 1 heaped teaspoon crushed chili flakes (preferably a mixed, or fruity variety), or more to taste
- 150g firm, crumbly feta
- 1 tablespoon toasted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
- Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- With a melon baller make as many balls from the melon and cucumber as possible and add to a bowl together with the arugula. I either chop up the leftover melon and add it to the salad, or eat it separately as a snack.
- Drizzle on olive oil, juice of a lime and add the lime zest and crushed chili flakes. Gently toss or stir to combine to coat all ingredients in the oil, flakes and juice.
- Crumble feta over the melon.
- In a dry pan over high heat, lightly toast the pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, then divide over the salad.
- Finish salad by sprinkling over some flaky sea salt (not too much since the feta is salty), a bit of freshly ground black pepper and some more crushed pepper to taste.