This Watermelon Feta Salad Is Your New Go-To Picnic Dish

This recipe is made with five ingredients, and it's best enjoyed outdoors.
This recipe is made with five ingredients, and it's best enjoyed outdoors. / The Institute of Culinary Education

If you plan on attending any picnics or barbecues this year, it’s important to have a great salad recipe in your back pocket. We don’t necessarily mean the green, leafy kind. The only true requirements for a summer salad are that it’s easily transportable and best eaten outdoors at room temperature. This watermelon feta salad from the Institute of Culinary Education definitely fits the bill. 

Anyone can make this recipe at home with just five simple ingredients (not including salt and pepper). And with no fancy equipment required beyond a big bowl, it’s the perfect dish to make on hot summer days when you don’t feel like turning on the oven or stove.

“This is a crowdpleaser—a summertime favorite,” ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor Roger Sitrin tells Mental Floss. “You want to make sure you get a nice, juicy, ripe watermelon for this one.”

After cutting the watermelon into chunks, toss them in a bowl with olive oil, chopped mint, lime juice, and lime zest. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste. Once it’s ready to serve, top the dressed fruit with feta cubes and additional mint for garnish. 

If you plan on transporting the salad farther than your patio, save the final step for the last possible moment. “The longer that feta sits in there, the more it starts to break apart in the mixture, and you definitely want that definition between chunks of watermelon and chunks of feta,” Sitrin says. To prepare the salad ahead of time for a picnic, simply keep the feta and mint separated in sealed baggies before sprinkling them over the rest of the dish.

The cooking lessons taught at ICE go beyond simple fruit salad. With courses covering hospitality management and the culinary arts, it’s easy to find the right program to match your skill level. You can check out their full curricula of classes based in Los Angeles and New York here

Watermelon Feta Salad

Serves 4

1 medium seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch pieces (roughly 8 cups)
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup mint, chopped, plus additional for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup feta cheese, broken up into large chunks

  1. In a large bowl, combine chopped watermelon, lime, olive oil, and mint. Toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Place onto a serving platter and top with feta cheese chunks. Garnish with additional mint and serve immediately.