This summery watermelon salad recipe with cilantro honey lime dressing is deliciously refreshing. With pearl couscous, red onion, and arugula sprinkled with cheese on top, and a dressing that perfectly combines zesty, savory and sweet! It’s the perfect side dish to have at a barbecue party, picnic or summer potluck.
.Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with more than 30 other Black culinary creators. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, signifying the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. This year, we are celebrating “Freedom Day” by offering a delightful selection of mains, sides, desserts, and refreshing drinks that are perfect for backyard barbecues and summer gatherings with friends and family. Join us in honoring the legacy of progress and freedom by cooking and sharing these recipes. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2023 on Instagram.
You can find a list of all recipes from the 2023 Juneteenth Virtual Potluck on the Eat the Culture website.
The One and Only Salad for Your Summer Cookout
I’m a real sucker for salads made with fresh fruit. What can I say? I just love that sweet and savory combination, and this Watermelon Salad Recipe with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing is just that.
Besides it being a delicious dish, this watermelon salad recipe is also a pretty salad to bring to get togethers all summer long. It’s the perfect salad to take to a backyard BBQ because it pairs so well with everything grilled.
And since summertime is about simplicity and fun, I love the fact that this watermelon salad recipe is pretty easy to make and very customizable, which makes is frustration-free and even easier to throw together. You can swap out pretty much any ingredient, except the watermelon lol.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this watermelon salad recipe and some substitution ideas:
- Watermelon. The star of the salad! You can use a mini watermelon, or about or about 1/4 of a large (about 6-8 cups of fruit).
- Israeli couscous. You can also use orzo pasta, quinoa, farro or anything like that.
- Red onion. I love red onion in my salads, particularly salads with fruit. But if biting into an onions isn’t your thing, you can omit it.
- Arugula. Arugula is one of my favorite greens. I like the subtle spiciness it brings to a salad, but feel free to use any other green you like. Romaine lettuce, spinach, and kale work great, as well!
- Queijo coalho. I love topping just about anything with this salty Brazilian cheese, but I don’t always have it on hand. I usually substitute it with halloumi cheese, or I go for crumbled queso fresco, panela cheese or feta when I’m looking for cheaper options.
Other than that, you’ll just need a handful of ingredients to make the dressing, some of which you may already have at home.
Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing
This cilantro honey lime dressing is one of my favorite salad dressings there are. It works perfectly with this watermelon salad recipe, as well as other salads. We always keep some of this goodness pre-made in the fridge!
- Brazilian sofrito or about 3 garlic cloves
- 2 limes zested and juiced
- fresh cilantro leaves
- olive oil
Tips for making this Watermelon Salad recipe
Start with cooking the pearl couscous based on the package instructions. Couscous cooks pretty quickly, so, while that cooks…
Make the cilantro honey lime dressing. Start by zesting your limes first, then juice them. Next, chop the cilantro and measure out the rest of the ingredients. Put everything in a small bowl and whisk to combine and set aside.
Cool the couscous. When the couscous is cooked, just add it to a bowl and toss it a few times to let it cool. You don’t want to mix it with the rest of the ingredients while it’s still hot.
Slice & dice. While the couscous is cooling, you can get your dicing and slicing game on. Dice the watermelon, thinly slice the onion and shred or crumble the cheese, and place them in a large salad bowl.
Mix it up. Add the cooled couscous to the bowl with the watermelon, the onion and the cheese. Add in the arugula and top with the dressing and toss to combine. It’s best to serve right away and with a slotted spoon because as the watermelon sits with all the other ingredients, especially salt, it’ll start to get watery at the bottom.
Make Ahead tip!
To make ahead, just mix all the ingredients, except for the arugula, and the watermelon – you want to keep those in separate containers in the refrigerator. Mix in the arugula and the watermelon just before serving. This will keep your salad fresh, will keep the leaves from wilting and the watermelon won’t get watery.
What does watermelon salad go with?
This watermelon salad recipe goes with just about anything! It’s a great way to start a party and serve it as an appetizer. Or serve it alongside all things grilled!
Other Green Soul Vegan/Vegetarian Recipes Perfect for your Summer Cookout
With the highest population of vegans/vegetarians in the United States, African-Americans are drawing inspiration from the largely plant-based diet of our African ancestors and developing recipes inspired by classic Soul Food dishes. Black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and watermelon are updated in recipes like Southern Caviar, Strawberry Lemonade Vodka, and Watermelon Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing.
- Savor and Sage – Soul Hummus and Vegetable Board
- Geo’s Table – Southern Caviar (Black eyed Pea Salad)
- Collards Are The Old Kale – White Beans w/Tomato Chow Chow
- That Green Lyfe – Strawberry Mango Romaine Salad w/ Raspberry Vinaigrette
- My Pretty Brown Eats – Watermelon Basil Gin Cocktail
- My Sweet Precision –Strawberry Lemonade Vodka
You can find a list of all recipes from the 2023 Juneteenth Virtual on the Eat the Culture website.
Other Watermelon Recipes You’ll Love!
More Summer Salads to try
FOR MORE BRAZILIAN FOOD INSPO, BE SURE TO FOLLOW ME ON
Watermelon Salad Recipe with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing
For the Salad:
- 1 mini watermelon peeled and diced (about 6-8 cups)
- 2 cups of cooked and cooled Israeli couscous from 1 cup of dry
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 5 oz arugula
- 8 oz queijo coalho, shredded or halloumi cheese – crumbled queso fresco, or panela cheese also work!
For the Dressing:
- 1 tablespoon Brazilian sofrito or about 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon lime zest about 2 limes
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice about 2 limes
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.
For the Dressing:
- Put all the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Pour over the salad, and toss to combine.