This year I promised my boys we would plant goodies in the backyard to harvest ourselves. At the nursery, jumping up and down as in a candy shop, they dragged so many plants to the counter, I had to give an absolute NO to half of them.
We ended up with thyme, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, mint, parsley, and cilantro. Ok, and tomatoes, cherry and roma. Fine… corn too, don’t know what I was thinking. And wait! We couldn’t leave without jalapeños, which led me to run for some tomatillos. And scallions. I stopped there. I did.
Then Sami came back with a little watermelon plant. That was the wildest idea, oh, that monster of mine. We’ve no room to grow watermelon. I told him about the big wide fields in Northern Mexico, in states like Sonora, Chihuahua, Jalisco and Sinaloa where watermelon is grown extensively. Our backyard is… not so big.
We brought home Sami’s watermelon plant.
As the weeks went by, we saw many of the plants thrive, except the watermelon which seemed to take an awful long time to grow. Then one day the editors from Babble asked me for a custom recipe. By then, I was eagerly thinking about what would make the sweet, watery crunch from that soon to grow watermelon shine the most.
This is what I came up with…
Thinly sliced, raw, punchy and tart tomatillos. Much firmer than the watermelon, and just look at the color contrast. Not to say about the flavor combination.
To coat this unconventional pairing, I wanted a vinaigrette with some some gentle heat. I got it from the jalapeños, which you will never have trouble finding in our backyard as Juju made markers for each plant… I am proud to say, the boy knows his Ñ’s.
I coarsely chopped the chiles, as I like to feel their friendly bite. But you can give them a finer chop and even remove the seeds.
Mint has been growing wild here, as all mint tends to… Although we planted ours in the ground while still in their protective pots, to keep them in check. It doesn’t seem to give a hoot. Its wild.
Soaked the jalapeño and the mint with fresh squeezed lime juice, a bit of straight forward white distilled vinegar which makes everything it coats more crisp, the oils and salt… Gave it a bit of time, 5 to 10 minutes, to sit and get acquainted.
Poured the vinaigrette over the red and green. Yet not only was the salad screaming for some white (partly to round the colors of the Mexican flag, for one thing…) but also for some salty taste with some heartiness to it. Hence the Feta Cheese. Now you can go for anything tangy, salty and crumbly: queso fresco or farmers’ cheese works well too.
While we had the chance to harvest and eat the jalapeño, mint and tomatillos from our backyard, that watermelon never came to be… some bunnies got to it before we did.
But just day dreaming about it made me come up with one of my favorite recipes. It is so bright, so alive, so peppy and so summery!
Luckily there are plenty of amazing watermelons at the stores… we will have to give it another go next summer to harvest our own.
Meanwhile I can’t help but repeat this salad that hits all the taste buds! Sweet from the watermelon, salty from the cheese, spicy from the chile, tart from the lime and tomatillos and refreshing from the mint. Oh, you just have to give it a try…
Summertime Watermelon & Tomatillo Salad
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For the salad:
- 4 cups watermelon cut into bite size chunks or cubes
- 2 cups, about 1/2 pound tomatillos husks removed, thoroughly rinsed, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup, about 3 ounces mild feta or queso fresco crumbled or cut into small dice
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves about 5 to 6, chopped
- 1 tablespoon jalapeño or serrano chile or to taste (seeding optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Place the watermelon cubes and tomatillo slices in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, add the chopped mint and jalapeno. Squeeze the fresh lime juice on top, stir in the vinegar, sprinkle the salt and mix. Pour the olive oil and vegetable oil, and mix with a whisk or fork until well emulsified.
- Pour the vinaigrette on top of the watermelon and tomatillos, toss well and sprinkle the cheese on top.
33comments inSummertime Watermelon & Tomatillo Salad: Beat the Heat!
Janet Gomez Canaday
Buenos Dia Senora Pati,
I will continue in English… 🙂
I made this salad on July 4th for my family and we all loved it tremendously! So refreshing and tasty.
Will always love you, your smile and your boys.
Dios de Bendiga y Gracias para los recitas…
Muchisimas gracias Janet, que amable y que lindas tus palabras, te mando un abrazo.
Hello Pati, Love your show I love to learn about other cultures and your shows to Mexico are AWESOME especially the episode to Sinaloa. Show this recipe and tried it now our go to summer salad used Fresno chilies from my garden. Keep up the great work. THANKS
Thanks for the kind words James, such a great idea to use Fresnos in this salad, yum!
I know this will be my new favorite summer salad and I haven’t even tasted it. Every ingredient makes my mouth water.
Hope you’ll fix it soon Sharon, thank you!
Excelente receta, gracias y está muy sabrosa
Que bueno que te gusto Miguel, saludos!
Ir looks delicious.
I have to try it. I never had tomatillos in a salad 😋
You will be amazed by the tomatillos here, enjoy!
Made this last night and I’m so glad I did! I’m only sad I didn’t try it sooner. I should have been enjoying it all summer. It is so delicious and refreshing! A new favorite, go to summer salad. Thank you Pati!
Enjoy it for the rest of the summer, Amber!
Fabulous. My go to potluck salad for the rest of the summer!
Awesome! Enjoy your summer, Michellery.
I can’t wait to try this recipe. I grow my own tomatillos from seed and love the taste so much. I was inspired to look on your website for a recipe after seeing your Pinata Party episode when you put tomatillos, watermelon and feta cheese on skewers with a sauce for dipping. I couldn’t find that recipe, but this one sounds so much better.
Love your show. First saw you on the Chew and was very impressed with the fact that you talk like a regular person. You made me feel like I was learning to cook from a neighbor or close friend. Thank you for being so real and not pretentious.
Hola Patricia, Thank you so much for your message and for watching my show! How lucky you are to have tomatillos growing in your garden. The salad is fabulous! If you decide you also want to try the skewers, the recipe is here: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/2014/01/watermelon-tomatillo-and-mozzarella-skewers-with-lime-honey-vinaigrette/
Hi Patti! The link to the recipe for the skewers is not working.
Here are the skewers:
Just watched your show for the first time and I can’t wait to try all the recipes plus the watermelon and tomatillo salad I found on your website. My tastebuds are dancing.
Good to hear, Linda!
Great idea for tomatillos.
ps- love your show.
Pati, I love your show and enjoy reading your recipes. Gracias!!
What colorful dish! Yummy! Next year, let the ninos start watermelon seeds in cups and transplant them when the ground is warm. It takes more than one plant to harvest watermelons.
Well, finally tried it, and YES! It really, really works. Could I have possibly even doubted that it would? I should know better by now, Pati; all your recipes are excellent!
Gracias Carla!! So glad you liked it!!
What a fantastic show, but it makes me so hungry!
Douglas, I will take that as a good sign!! 🙂
I was reading the blog and even before I got to the feta I thought “feta would be good in this”…then there it was…FETA!
This sounds yummy! Can’t wait to try!
Olivia, I so hope you enjoy the salad! It really will be a relief from the summer heat!
Oh, wow! Gotta try this. I must admit, I’ve slacked off frequenting your blog because I’ve been doing a low-carb diet. But not an extreme version that avoids fruits, so this recipe is on my to-make list, for sure. It’s rare to find a raw use for tomatillos, though I’ve often thought they’ve got potential that way.
Hola Carla! Welcome back : ) I am hoping you’ll love the combination of the sweet watermelon with the tart and punchy raw tomatillos… and it is all juicy and fresh.
This sounds TERRIFIC! I’m going shopping for the ingredients today! GRACIAS, Pati!
Oh, it is my pleasure!