This watermelon salad with Aleppo pepper is an elegant, easy dish that melds sweet and heat, combining pepper, watermelon, black olives, and mint. Comes together in just 15 minutes.
I just love this dish. It reminds me of walking out into the garden back home and picking a fresh watermelon for lunch—the vibrant green- and yellow-striped skin, smooth and almost waxy on top with dirt still clinging to the paler underside. With a perfect melon in hand, I’d head to our back porch and peel, chop, and toss it with some fresh herbs. Then I’d hit it with some Aleppo pepper and briny Greek olives for a vibrant, Mediterranean twist. Yum. Originally published July 31, 2012.–Angelo Sosa
What Is Aleppo?
Aleppo pepper, named for the ancient city of Aleppo along the Spice Route, is commonplace in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines (as well as the markedly well-stocked pantries of those who frequently travel there). Yet it’s not so well-known stateside. Aleppo has something of a mild, sweet heat, somewhat similar to that of an ancho, although truthfully, there’s no adequate substitute for it. You can opt instead for a heat of a vastly different sort, whether it be your favorite crushed peppercorns, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or a combination of precisely 4 pinches of sweet paprika to a single pinch of cayenne. Whatever a little heat means to you, whatever chili or peppers you choose, let us know how it goes. And use prudence, starting with a scant sprinkling if, like David, you appreciate chile peppers yet want to taste the other components of your meal as well. After all, you can always add more Aleppo, though you can’t subtract it. Not that you would want to….
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 15 M
- Serves 4
- 1 pound watermelon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (optional)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground Aleppo pepper (see LC A Little Aleppo Note above)
- 1 tablespoon chopped black olives, preferably Greek, pitted if desired
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves
- 1. Remove the rind from the watermelon and discard.
- 2. Cut the watermelon into large chunks, remove and discard all the seeds, and place the watermelon chunks in a serving bowl.
- 3. Add the salt, thyme, Aleppo pepper to taste, and olives and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.