Watermelon Salad with Feta & Nectarines

Refreshing, summery watermelon salad with salty feta cheese, juicy white nectarines, peppery arugula, fresh basil, and a drizzle of homemade balsamic glaze.

An overhead photo of an oval white tray of watermelon salad with feta cheese, greens, and peaches on a gray table next to a grey linen, white bowl of balsamic vinegar, a white bowl of feta, and a grey bowl of peaches.
Two images; on the left, a woman's hands are spooning melon, arugula, and feta from a white oval dish next to a bowl of balsamic, bowl of feta, bowl of greens, and grey linen on a grey table. On the right, an overhead closeup of the same dish.

I know, I know, I know. Watermelon feta salad. For summer?

*Meryl Streep voice*: groundbreaking.

But hear me out, cause I swear, this one just hits different. I’ve had a lot of watermelon salads in my day but there is something about this combination in particular that just takes it up a notch. For starters, watermelon + nectarines + balsamic = heaven. I have truly found my new favorite summer snack. Then, we balance it out with some peppery arugula and fresh basil from the garden, and it’s out of this world.

I spent all of last week in Las Vegas where it hit, I’m not even kidding, a high of 121 degrees. In case you were wondering why I have no interest in ever moving back. Anyways, during this heatwave we’ve been going through, all I want to eat is light summery salads and this watermelon salad is by far my new go-to! Simple prep, no cooking, make-ahead-able, just a few ingredients. And, if you were curious, yes, the leftovers make for the perfect lazy breakfast/lunch situation.

Turn on the grill, pour a glass of rosé, and soak up some sun. We’re officially in full summer mode over here. 🙌

An overhead image of a white tray with cubed watermelon, arugula, and sprigs of basil on a speckled white table next to a beige linen, grey bowl of peaches, white bowl of balsamic, and oval white dish filled with feta cubes.

Ingredients you’ll need

To make this watermelon salad with feta and nectarines, you will need:

  • Watermelon – I usually go with a seedless, personal watermelon. You can use a regular watermelon as well! If you don’t feel like cubing it, try using a melon baller.
  • Feta cheese – pre-crumbled or a freshly-cut block both work. I usually prefer to slice a block into cubes because it tastes more flavorful.
  • Arugula – sometimes called rocket! It adds a nice, peppery flavor which balances out the sweetness.
  • White nectarines – yellow nectarines, yellow peaches, or white peaches also work.
  • Basil – go with fresh basil, not dried.
  • Balsamic vinegar – to make up our glaze. I usually splurge on a high-quality balsamic in this recipe because it gets nice and syrupy.
  • Basics – freshly cracked black pepper, flaky salt (I like Maldon), and brown sugar.

How to make this salad

This watermelon salad with feta and peaches is pretty foolproof but requires just a bit of prep! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Make the balsamic glaze – simmer balsamic vinegar with a bit of brown sugar until it coats the back of a spoon. Then, pour the glaze into a bowl and let it cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  2. Prep the ingredients – next, cube the watermelon, crumble the feta cheese, slice the peaches, and julienne the basil.
  3. Layer the salad – spread a few handfuls of arugula on a large salad plate. Layer the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, and sliced peaches. Lastly, drizzle with the balsamic glaze and season with flaky salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
A woman wearing a white linen dress drizzling balsamic vinegar over watermelon salad with feta, nectarines, and arugula on a grey table next to a grey linen, cream bowl of feta cheese, and grey bowl of nectarines.

Picking the perfect watermelon

It’s always sad when watermelon is dry and flavorless. Since sweet, juicy melon really makes this salad, it’s important to pick a good one. But don’t worry! I have a few tips on how to pick a delicious watermelon every time:

  • Color – look for a watermelon with contrasting stripes. The stripes should alternate between dark green and creamy green-yellow.
  • Field spot – each watermelon should have a field spot, a.k.a. where the watermelon sat on the ground as it grew. This spot should be creamy and yellow, not white or cream-colored.
  • Dullness – the rind should be pretty dull. A shiny watermelon is likely underripe.
  • Veiny webbing – look for dry, veiny webs on the rind of the melon. Those veins are the sugar coursing through the melon, making it nice and sweet.
  • Give it a knock – if it sounds hollow, it’s good to go! But, if the sound is dull, it’s not ripe yet.
  • Roundness – the rounder the melon, the sweeter. Oval melons tend to be a bit more watery.
  • Heft – the watermelon should feel pretty heavy for its size. This means it has more water and it’ll be sweeter.

TL;DR? Essentially, the uglier the watermelon, the tastier it’ll be!

A make-ahead option

The best part of this salad is that you can make it in advance for BBQs, picnics, and parties. To prepare it in advance, make it up to the point where you add the balsamic glaze. Then, right before serving, drizzle the balsamic glaze over the salad, and add salt and pepper to taste! Avoid adding dressing or salt, because the salt will bring out all of the juices in the watermelon and make the salad soggy.

What to pair with watermelon salad

Luckily, this salad goes with pretty much any summery meal! Here are a few ideas:

Two overhead images; on the left, a super closeup photo of a watermelon salad with nectarines, arugula, feta, and basil. On the right a white plate topped with salad on a grey table next to a grey linen, bowl of dressing and bowl of cheese.

Ingredient substitutions

If you want to switch this watermelon feta salad up a bit, it’s pretty easy to do! I like swapping out some of the ingredients depending on what main dish I’m making:

  • Watermelon – use cantaloupe, honeydew, or other melon!
  • Feta – try ricotta salata, Mozzarella, cotija, or Parmesan.
  • Nectarines – use berries, apricots, cucumber, or green apple instead.
  • Arugula – frisée, butter lettuce, and baby kale all make great alternatives.
  • Basil – mint, cilantro, and chives are all delicious with watermelon!

Tips & Tricks

Use fresh ingredients! Cutting up your own watermelon and feta makes a huge difference in the flavor of this salad. I promise it’s worth the extra time!

If you don’t want to cut the watermelon into chunks, you can always use a melon baller.

Leftovers get a little watery over time, but they’re still good as long as the salad only sits for a night or so! Just store leftovers in an airtight container and place them in the fridge.

A closeup overhead image of a white dish of melon with arugula, feta, peaches, and basil on a white speckled counter next to a grey linen and vintage forks.

More summery salads you’ll love

Thai Cucumber Salad
Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing
BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Thai Coleslaw
Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad
Cabbage Crunch Salad

If you make this recipe, I would love if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting SSL!


A closeup photo of a white plate of watermelon salad with arugula, feta, nectarines, and balsamic.

Watermelon Salad with Feta & Nectarines

A summery watermelon salad with salty feta cheese, juicy nectarines, fresh basil, peppery arugula, and balsamic glaze. The perfect combo of salty, sweet, and savory!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar, good-quality
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar, optional

Watermelon Salad

  • 3 c arugula
  • 5 c seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 2 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • 1 large white nectarine, sliced
  • 1/4 c fresh basil, julienned
  • Freshly cracked blck pepper and flaky salt, to taste

Instructions
 

Balsamic Glaze

  • To make the balsamic glaze, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar (if using) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the glaze is slightly thickened and reduced by half. (If you aren't using brown sugar, it'll take closer to 20 minutes). It should coat the back of the spoon. Pour the glaze into a bowl and let cool to room temperature, at least 15 minutes.

Watermelon Salad

  • To make the salad, spread the arugula evenly on a medium sized platter. Layer the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, sliced nectarines, and basil over the arugula. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons (or more) of the balsamic glaze and sprinkle with black pepper and flaky salt.

Notes

If you don’t want to use brown sugar in the glaze, feel free to replace it with regular white sugar or honey.
You can also use a melon baller to create melon spheres!
Freshly cubed or crumbled feta is best for this recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25of recipeCalories: 126kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 3.7gFat: 3.4gSaturated Fat: 2.2gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 167mgPotassium: 337mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 17.5gCalcium: 115mgIron: 1mg
Keyword feta, salad, side dish, summer recipes, watermelon
Did you make this recipe?Tag @serendipitybysaralynn on Instagram!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Eternal Summer by The Strokes

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