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.
Recipe Testers Reviews
Salty and sweet with a little heat. This watermelon salad recruits summer garden flavors and tosses them together without fuss. I served this salad with an herb-rubbed whole chicken butterflied and roasted on the grill. I would salt the watermelon first, letting it sit in a strainer for a few minutes to remove some of the water the melon will release. Adding the rest of the ingredients after that step will give the dressing an opportunity to cling to and season the melon.
It may seem silly to add anything, anything at all, to watermelon since it’s delicious on its own. However, I occasionally find that adding a little spicy heat brings out the sweetness even more. This recipe adds a nice touch with the olives, adding just a little brininess to the spice. Instead of the Aleppo pepper, I used the suggested combination of sweet paprika and cayenne (4:1 ratio). I probably used only a teaspoon’s worth, combined, since I prefer a milder spice and still wanted the fruit to shine through. This salad is great for the summer, and anytime, really.
We loved this. I had never had watermelon salad and really did not expect to like it. I used the thyme and the Aleppo pepper and mixed all the dressing ingredients before adding them to the melon. Next time I think I will omit the salt and add some crumbled feta cheese. Do not dress the melon ahead—the salt pulled the juices out of the melon very quickly.
This recipe is so good and easy to put together that I made it twice in the last week—once for the two of us at home and the other time for some friends who came to dinner. I didn’t have Aleppo pepper, so I used red pepper flakes instead. The combination of sweet, salty, and spicy is amazing! One of our friends thought it was too spicy, but the rest of us loved it as is. I also added some feta cheese to a bit of the salad at the end to see what that tasted like, and it added another tasty dimension. I will definitely be making this one again.
A gorgeous summer salad bursting with flavor! I love how salt draws out the sweetness of the melon and the aleppo chili provides just enough subtle smokiness. The mint, in turn, provides a hint of freshness and just screams sunshine and outdoor picnics! I love the look of chiffonade, so I sliced my mint that way. And for a little something extra, just add arugula, toasted almonds and some feta. A more filling salad that will not disappoint!
This is one of those dishes that you must continue to eat beyond just the initial bite to learn of its intricacies. The more I ate, the more I enjoyed it. Watermelon with savory ingredients appeal to me because it can be bland and therefore a great base for a lot of flavors. The aleppo pepper is what this dish was all about, though. Love the stuff. The recipe would be one note without it. Then, of course, the fresh mint and olive oil brought it all together. The recipe includes fresh thyme as an optional ingredient, but I would say it is not optional. It really added a lovely freshness. I cannot say that this was a WOW dish but it was pleasing and delicious. It would be fun for a barbecue or picnic when you try to encourage guests to guess the ingredients.