Tomato and Watermelon—an unlikely pairing that just “works.” Our Tomato Watermelon Salad is sweet, tangy, vibrant and just savory enough. Enjoy this summer salad as a side dish for any grill out or BBQ, or turn it into the perfect summer lunch with a couple of grilled chicken tenders.
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Why This Recipe Works
The combination of flavors and textures just hit the right note. It’s hard to explain, but the crisp, juicy pieces of watermelon mingle incredibly well with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and salty cheese. A drizzle of good extra-virgin olive adds a spicy fruitiness while sherry vinegar adds tang and depth.
For this watermelon tomato salad recipe we prefer Black Diamond watermelons. They have a vibrant pink flesh and a dark green rind. They’re super sweet and labeled as “seedless watermelons,” which just means they have less seeds than traditional watermelons.
You can use any variety of tomato for this salad. We like to use big, juicy red tomatoes because they blend in with the watermelon and create a striking salad. These types of tomatoes include vine-ripe, Better Boy or Big Beef varieties. However, feel free to use roma tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or even cherry tomatoes.
We love Pecorino here—it’s dry and super salty which pairs wonderfully with watermelon! To get large thick strips, run a vegetable peeler down the side of the block of cheese. If you can’t find (or don’t like) Pecorino, you can also use Parmesan.
The type of vinegar you use is important! We love the flavor of sherry vinegar and find it pairs beautifully with the watermelon and tomato. Even though it’s made with sherry, it’s MUCH more nuanced than any white or red wine vinegar. It adds bright tang while also adding depth thanks to its sweet caramel and toasty notes.
Test Kitchen Tips
- If you have extra-juicy tomatoes, consider briefly draining the cubed tomatoes in a colander for a few minutes to avoid watering down the vinaigrette.
- We recommend seeking out sherry vinegar but if you don’t have it or can’t find it, you can use a high-quality red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.
More Summer Side Dishes to Try
- Our Dill Pickle Pasta Salad is one of those side dishes that disappears in minutes. It’s light, tangy and loaded with flavor.
- We also love this Herby Sour Cream Potato Salad—a fun alternative to traditional mayo-based potato salads.
- If you’ve got extra tomatoes, try this delicious Turkish Shepherd’s Salad—it’s the perfect summer side dish.
We do not recommend making this ahead of time as the tomatoes and watermelon will start to weep a bit and water down the dressing. Additionally, we don’t recommend making this ahead and storing it in the refrigerator as the refrigeration will turn the tomatoes into a mealy mess.
Tomatoes should be stored on your counter at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. Once cut into, tomatoes should be refrigerated.
Pecorino is a super salty, dry cheese. You can replace it with shreds of Parmesan.
Tomato Watermelon Salad
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry Vinegar
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 4 cups cubed watermelon
- 3 cups cubed tomatoes (about 4 large tomatoes)
- 12 basil leaves, torn
- ⅔ cup shaved Pecorino cheese
- In a large bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Add watermelon and tomatoes and toss to combine.
- Stir in basil and pecorino. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.