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This past Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a buddy checking to see if we (baby daddy, McNugget, me) were still planning on coming to his potluck dinner that night.
My befuddled response?
What potluck dinner?
We both giggled knowing all too well my husband failed to communicate this event to me, and I reassured him that we could be there with a Paleoish dish to accompany the chicken fajitas he was supplying.
Instead of zipping BACK to the grocery store where I had visited just hours before, I put myself in the shoes of all the past contestants on the Food Network’s show, Chopped.
I opened my fridge, thought through what I already had on hand, and decided to just make something work.
And that’s how this recipe was born!
I spied half a seedless watermelon and English cucumber in my fridge, half a log of goat cheese in the deli drawer, a mint plant begging for attention in my driveway, and an unopened bag of pistachios in my pantry.
Without even tasting it, I just knew this recipe was going to work.
The contrasting textures- juicy melon, crisp cucumbers, crunchy pistachios, creamy goat cheese- and symphonic harmony of salty and sweet spelled for one stupendous salad.
After arriving to the potluck fashionably late (#lifewithababy), the ginormous bowl was nearly empty within an hour despite most everyone already going through the supper spread.
So, if you’re looking for a simple, show stopping side dish for this weekend, look no further! I’ve got you covered!
It’s no secret that cucumber and watermelon are besties.
I mean, who can forget the everpopular Bath and Body Works scent- Cucumber Melon?
Staple of my 90’s childhood, for sure!
To this day, the two are still popularly paired in beauty products as well as flavorings in fancy pants spa water.
But have you ever tried them in a salad? With mint? AND goat cheese? AND pistachios? I feel like that was a missing page from Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, a bedtime classic at our home.
If you have already tried cucumber+melon in a salad, well, gold star for you ,and you can just run along and get on with your day.
But for the rest of y’all out there, you MUST make this side dish as soon as possible before watermelon is not longer in season and becomes a sad, tasteless fruit that shouldn't even be available in stores.
While my recipe will serve a larger crew (12ish), you can easily scale it back to serve a smaller group or just enjoy by yourself.
Alas, this is one of those recipes you really can’t make that far in advance, nor can you enjoy its leftovers very long.
Due to the SUPER high water content of both the cucumbers and WATERmelon (hence the name), it will turn into a mushy, water mess if you make it too far in advance or if you keep leftovers in your fridge for too long.
That’s why I recommend make just enough for that meal.
Or, if you’re like me and get a kick outta planning ahead, you may slice the cucumbers and watermelon a few hours ahead of time. Just don’t pour on the dressing and add the rest of the party people (goat cheese, mint, pistachios) until right before. The mint will start turning black a few hours after slicing and the pistachios will lose their crunch. Sad and sad.
But aside from those little tips, this recipe is SUPER simple.
1) Slice your seedless watermelon and cucumbers in whatever shape you like. If you don't use a thin-skinned English cucumber, then you may want to peel off the waxy cucumber skin. Cantaloupe would be okey dokey in place of watermelon.
2) Shakey shake your vinaigrette. It’s just one part olive oil to two parts AGED balsamic. This is NOT the time for the super cheap olive oil and balsamic vinegar that costs $3.00. Here are some I like...they may seem a little pricy but you usually use only a few tablespoons at a time, so they will last you months. Plus, they both have SUCH tremendous flavor. The vinegar is thick and syrupy, and the olive oil is fragrant and smooth.
3) Chop up fresh mint. No mint? Fresh basil would be delightful, too.
4) Crumble some goat cheese over everybody. If you want this to be 100% paleo or vegan, omit the cheese. If you aren’t a goat cheese fan, substitute feta or even blue cheese.
5) Lastly, sprinkle some pistachios for that final crunch factor. If you can’t find pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts would be just as magical.
Okey dokey my cutie patooties, please make this salad before summer slips past us in a few weeks (or my fellow Texans, few months).
It’s SO refreshing, SO delicious, and SO simple.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!