Watermelon And Red Onion Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This may sound like an odd combination, but it’s one of the most popular summer salads served over the years at my namesake restaurant, John Ash & Company, in Sonoma County, California. Fresh blueberries or blackberries make a wonderful and colorful addition to this salad.

NotesRecommended Wine:

A fruity, slightly sweet Gewürztraminer or Johannesburg Riesling mirrors the sweet melon and raspberry tastes in this salad.


Watermelons are traditionally known for their dark-green exterior and ruby-red flesh, but there is an extraordinary variety of melons available. There are many delicious yellow-fleshed varieties, and the combination of red and yellow melon on a plate is particularly beautiful. I’m especially fond of an heirloom variety called Moon and Stars, which displays a radiant large, yellow oval splash (resembling the moon) and tiny, yellow dots in constellations (the stars) on its green skin. Under the right conditions—a good, warm summer and sandy soil—melons can be grown easily by the home gardener, and many unusual, flavorful melon varieties are available through seed companies. Whole watermelons should always be stored at room temperature after being purchased, while cut melons keep better in the refrigerator. Watermelon seeds are edible, by the way. The Chinese roast and salt them to eat as a snack. I’ve also had them when they’ve been soaked in soy sauce, lightly dusted with hot pepper, and then roasted at 350°F just until crunchy.




Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, healthy, kosher, lactose-free, low cholesterol, low-fat, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Taste and Texturefruity, herby, juicy, light, sharp, sweet, tangy, tart

Type of Dishfirst course salad, fruit salad


  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots or green onions, white part only
  • ¼ cup raspberry vinegar or other fruit vinegar
  • ¼ cup raspberry puree made from fresh or unsweetened frozen berries, pureed and strained
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium sweet red onions, sliced ¼ inch thick and soaked in ice water for at least 30 minutes
  • 2 small bunches watercress, woody stems discarded
  • 8 cups seeded 1-inch cubes watermelon, chilled (use both red and yellow watermelon, if available)
  • 6 large ripe fresh figs, sliced or quartered (optional)
  • Chopped fresh mint leaves for garnishing


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallots, vinegar, raspberry puree, orange juice, honey, and olive oil to make a smooth mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain the onions, pat dry, and separate into individual rings. Transfer the onion rings to a medium bowl and pour the vinaigrette over. Marinate the onions for at least 30 minutes covered in the refrigerator.

  2. On chilled plates, arrange the watercress and top with the cubed watermelon. Arrange the onions and figs attractively around and drizzle the vinaigrette over. Sprinkle mint leaves over the top and serve immediately.


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