Watermelon salad can be a tricky beast. I see a lot of restaurants adding things like feta or other cheeses to try to add richness to watermelon salads, which I think is a mistake, as it takes away from how refreshing watermelon is.
While this salad has prawns as a central protein, I like to the think that the watermelon is still the star. The watermelon vinaigrette gives you a sweet underpinning, while the raw chunks give you that burst of freshness that only watermelon can offer.
The spring onion and radish are there for some sharpness and the mango is there for its glorious yellow colour and sweetness to compliment the dressing. The mango should be slightly under-ripe and firm; you don’t want it to be too sweet and mushy. You could happily use a green mango instead, but I’d recommend a julienne if you do, as they can be quite sour at times.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5-10 minutes
- 1/8 large watermelon
- 1 calypso (or slightly under-ripe mango) mango
- 1 medium cos lettuce
- Bag/box mixed salad leaves
- 10 Thai basil leaves
- Small handful coriander
- 2 medium radishes
- 1 spring onion
- Handful cherry tomatoes
- Half cucumber (1 whole Lebanese cucumber)
- 500g banana prawns (whole, shell on)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp paprika
- Half lemon (juice)
- 1 tsp sumac
- 2 tsp sugar
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- Half lime (juice)
- Large stainless steel bowl
- Chopping board
- Large non-stick pan
- Small saucepan
- Fine strainer
Making the Watermelon Vinaigrette
- Cut half of the watermelon into small cubes and remove the seeds (they will make the watermelon reduction bitter).
- Add the watermelon to a small sauce pan along with the water and sugar.
- Bring the liquid to the boil and then strain the liquid into a small bowl, pressing the watermelon with a fork to get the excess liquid out. If the liquid tastes bitter or not sweet enough, add more sugar. The flavour can vary depending on the watermelon.
- Add the lime juice, salt and pepper and put aside.
Note: Use the mushier, sweeter parts of the watermelon for the vinaigrette and save the more watery parts for the salad.
Preparing the Salad
- Remove the cos leaves and wash thoroughly. Roughly chop the lettuce into chunks and place in a large salad bowl, along with the mixed salad leaves.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes, half the cucumber and slice it finely, slice the radish so that it retains its circular shape and finely chop the spring onions.
- Cut the mango along its natural line, avoiding the core to remove the cheeks. Remove the skin and slice finely.
- Chiffonade the coriander and Thai basil and add all ingredients to the salad bowl with the lettuce.
For the Prawns
- Peel the shells from the prawns and remove their intestinal tract. Try to avoid washing them heavily as this will take away from their flavour.
- Place the prawns into a bowl and add 2 tbsp olive oil, the paprika, sumac and parsley. Dice the garlic finely and add it to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and leave for 5 minutes.
- Heat up a non-stick pan to a high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and the prawns (watch out for spitting), ensuring that you get all of the marinade in the pan.
- Season well and cook for 40 seconds to 1 minute on each side depending on the size of the prawns (they will curl the more they cook).
- Deglaze with the lemon juice, shaking the pan as you add the lemon to get the flavour off it.
- Dress the salad with the watermelon vinaigrette and serve with the prawns on top.
Watermelon is such a wonderful fruit. Honestly I’m suspicious of anyone who doesn’t like it. Having said that, I think we have all bought a giant chunk of watermelon and been unable to eat it all (if only they sold it in smaller amounts!), so this salad is a great way to use up that excess watermelon.
The prawns used in this dish are really versatile and fantastic with a number of different salads or even just atop some rice. If you don’t like shellfish, you could also use the same marinade for a nice white fish like barramundi and grill it up to serve with this salad instead.
Whatever route you choose, I hope this salad gives you the impetus to use watermelon in more varied ways. It really is a fantastic ingredient for summer salads and compliments the saltiness of seafood and steaks incredibly well.