appetizers, brunch, salads, sides

summer stunner: persian watermelon + cucumber salad.

persian watermelon + cucumber salad. | a periodic table

Something about summer makes it seem so appropriate to throw things together. To be lazy. To not care. I blame the fruit.

Summer fruit doesn’t give two rips if you do anything to it: it exists and is beautiful, period. Berries are perfectly formed into their wee shapes, cherries practically glow at you and look like cartoons of themselves, melons are just thrilled to be hacked into a rainbow of cubes or triangles and thrown on a plate. Sometimes, when I’m feeling fancy, I dig out my melon-baller; most often, I don’t.

I need everyone to make this salad at some point this summer while the watermelons are still stacked in piles at your nearest grocer. I need you to buy a big watermelon and harvest some for this salad. Grab a cucumber and a thing of scallions on your way out, and make sure you have vinegar and salt at home. If you don’t have vinegar and salt at home, you must not like food; fix the situation and make sure it never happens again.

persian watermelon + cucumber salad. | a periodic table

Listen: I’m a watermelon purist, normally. If you’re a watermelon purist too, I get your apprehension. I grew up feet away from a pool with a slab of watermelon in-hand from like, late May until early September. I almost never feel compelled to do anything beyond eating watermelon, but here’s the thing.

I’ve been obsessed with Persian cooking as of late. No, I don’t know why: because I’m me, I guess. Yes, it’s a very good obsession to have, thank you. In the summer too, I know, right? Perfect. So I grabbed this cookbook on a whim the other day at my library – The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia – and I fell instantly in love. She’s got serious style and she totally nails food, most of the time with pretty simple ingredients.

persian watermelon + cucumber salad. | a periodic table

This is one of her recipes, and clearly I couldn’t resist. I timed myself: it took less than 3 minutes…I’d give it 5 minutes if you don’t already have cubed watermelon waiting in the fridge. In the summer months, watermelon in the fridge is as much of a given as kosher salt in my pantry, so if you’re like me, it makes this recipe even simpler to execute.

It would go well with everything: I’m planning to eat this for lunch, probably just solo. it would be awesome next to pretty much any protein, or you could throw it on some lettuce, I don’t know. What I do know is that in the midst of 90’s temperatures with abundant humidity, this salad will literally cool you down, quench your thirst, and make you feel like summer should go on forever. I’m starting to sound like Elizabeth; it was only a matter of time.

Barely adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia. I’m going to make more things from it, which should give you ample time to check it out.

persian watermelon + cucumber salad. | a periodic table

Persian Watermelon + Cucumber Salad 

Serves | 4 to 6 | as a side

  • 3 heaping cups watermelon, in cubes
  • 1 lb English cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed with a spoon, sliced into 1/2-inch thick crescents
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, sliced into very thin slivers
  • 1 Tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
  • sea salt, for serving

I like using champagne vinegar here because I love the light, slightly sweet flavor. I don’t want to complicate things, so use white wine vinegar if that’s what you have. 

Make that salad:

Toss watermelon cubes, cucumber slices, and scallions in a bowl, holding some scallion slivers out for garnish. Add vinegar and salt to taste; stir to coat, transfer to serving bowl, top with remaining scallions, and serve immediately.

That’s seriously it. You’re welcome!

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  • Reply elizabeth June 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Replace watermelon with tomatoes and I’d make this in an instant for myself, but I may have to get a personal-sized watermelon and make this for M for his birthday because he loves everything in this salad.

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Oh man, replace watermelon with tomatoes and i’d make it for myself, too! That’s the perfect switch-out (and a salad I make on the regular during the summer. Get a personal watermelon and try this: I’ve been personal-watermelloning basically all summer (because I’m the lone fanatic in this house) and this is definitely worth it.

  • Reply Ashley June 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I love that cookbook! This salad looks like Summer, complete with the capital S. Hope all is marvelous with you!

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Do you have this cookbook? UGH it’s SO GOOD! I’m actually gearing up this week (lord willing, girl) to make another thing out of it that looks incredible. It has peaches…and corn…and love in it. 🙂

      Everything is really good here! Busy, but in a fun summer way, as per usual. House finally settled into (well, like almost, but good enough for now) and we are in what seems to be a constant state of movement around here and…clearly i owe you an email considering i started typing you out one RIGHT HERE. 🙂 Let’s catch up, lady! I miss you!

  • Reply Faygie Moorvitch June 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I think this salad is going to have to be made soon. My kids love watermelon & cucumbers, so they’d probably love this!

  • Reply John/Kitchen Riffs June 16, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Yup, always have cubed watermelon in the fridge at this time of the year. My usual breakfast, along with a hard-boiled egg (also always in the fridge). So now I can start using the watermelon for my regular lunch as well as breakfast. 🙂 Good recipe — thanks.

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      In the midwest, ready-to-eat watermelon is MANDATORY, right? Yes. And that’s a great breakfast, by the way: I need to do better at the hard-boiled eggs in the fridge (always good when i’m trying to low-carb it a little, and they make great snacks regardless), but any sort of eggs/melons combo for breakfast is a winner for me too.

  • Reply sticky pine nut and artichoke spread. – A Periodic Table June 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

    […] 4 minutes from start to finish – the perfect summer bite. You could even make this with my Persian watermelon salad from the other day and have yourself the best little summer snack meal on the […]

  • Reply Willow | Will Cook For Friends August 4, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Oh man this sounds GOOD. It has been so freakin’ hot out, all I want to do is shove my face into a wedge of watermelon and go to town. But I could totally be persuaded to make this salad instead. When I was a kid, I had this neighbor who always made a watermelon salad that was similar to this, but with red onions in place of the scallions and little chunks of feta cheese throughout. I remember being pretty revolted when I first saw it, but it turned out to be an amazing combination and totally opened my mind to sweet/savory food combos. This sounds like a simplified, easier version of that, and I am totally going to give it a try!

    One note — the recipe states that you should use 1 lb of english cucumber. Is that right, or is it supposed to be just 1 english cucumber? I’m guessing it’s the latter, but thought I’d check just to be sure. 🙂

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