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Playing Marcela Valladolid's Watermelon, Queso Fresco and Mint Salad

“All of a sudden watermelon salads are everywhere. I grew up eating watermelon sprinkled with salt, so I’m used to the savory profile, but, until recently, had never really had it with cheese and/or greens. It’s just an incredibly light and refreshing combo that’s great for an outdoor summer party. For a nicer presentation, carefully scoop out the watermelon flesh and use the hollowed-out watermelon as a serving dish. If it’s moving around too much because of the round base, just cut a sliver off the bottom to flatten.”


  • 8 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 cup jicama, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped fresh
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped fresh (preferably cut into chiffonade)
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest, freshly grated
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped fresh
  • 1 tablespoon scallion, sliced, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 chile, jalapeňo, seeded , deveined and minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped fresh


Serves: 8 to 10


Combine the watermelon and jicama in a large bowl. Add the cilantro, basil, lime zest, chives, scallions and jalapeño. Mix well to evenly incorporate.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice and lemon juice, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drizzle over the watermelon-jicama mixture. Toss in the crumbled queso fresco and mint. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve in the hollowed-out watermelon halves immediately or cover and chill for up to 2 hours.


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