Watermelon + Arugula Salad

Watermelon + Arugula Salad

I was fortunate enough to get this cookbook…and a signed copy at that, for Mother’s Day from our eldest daughter.

Watermelon +Arugula Salad

It’s a treasure as it was written by one of her good friends, Matt Moore, who has become a friend of mine as well.  He loves food and cooking so we had an instant bond.  He has an updated southern gentleman cooking style.  Everything is made from scratch, using the freshest ingredients. His recipes are a mix of old favorites with a twist (hello Georgia Peach Caprese Salad and Nashville Farmers’ Market Succotash)

Watermelon + Arugula Salad

with some manly looking stuff like Pan Seared Venison Backstrap Medallions and Whole Roasted Hog.  Personally I can’t wait to try his Pan Seared Sea Scallops.  Easily adaptable into my new-found Paleo lifestyle, they are next on my list. Gorgeous full-color photography (as pictured above) graces this culinary update on authentic Southern cuisine.

Matt Moore takes readers on an entertaining walk through the life of a Southern gentleman using recipes for 150 distinctly simple Southern dishes for every meal of the day, plus tales from family and some well-known friends. He sends the same message that my heart resonates with and that is food connects us with people.  Eating together, sharing our stories and our tables with one another builds a connection that we all need.  And then you have his luscious recipes.  This is written with the male gender in mind but us women can find a gold mine of yummy food here.  I love how he pays respect and honor to his Mom for the culinary foundation she gave him.

If you have a gentleman in your life who loves food and has a desire to cook, this may be an excellent Father’s Day gift for him.  It’s available on www.amazon.com for only $21.93 as I write this.

So I thought I’d prepare one of his recipes on Memorial Day weekend when we had the pleasure of having our daughter in-law and her parents over for dinner.  Arugula is in full swing in the garden, so I took the opportunity to serve this Watermelon + Arugula Salad from Matt Moore’s cookbook. It was well received so here it is.  I adapted it to be sugar-free, using homemade date-paste.

Watermelon + Arugula Salad

The date paste in this recipe was made in a small quantity, but I have since made a pint jar of it because it keeps well and I’m finding multiple uses for it. Fun “mock tails” with Pellegrino, berries and herbs with a touch of lemon and date paste is a new summertime refreshing favorite.  That’s another post.   We sip it while enjoying this breathtaking view from our deck.


So about this Watermelon + Arugula Salad…Matt’s recipe from his SGK cookbook serves four.  I doubled it to feed our crew of 8.

For the sake of saving time the onions can be prepped up to a week ahead.  You’ll want to drain them, after soaking and before storing them in the fridge if you prep them ahead.

Watermelon + Arugula Salad

They are sliced and sit in a red wine vinegar and date paste mixture (my white sugar substitute) for an hour.  You can make it ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight container up to 1 week.

You can also make the balsamic vinegar reduction a day ahead.  Now on to assembly…

Cut the watermelon to size in approximately 4 inch pieces.

Watermelon + Arugula Salad Layer drained onions and arugula on top.

Watermelon + Arugula Salad

Sprinkle on goat cheese and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Watermelon + Arugula SaladAnd serve.  So yummy.  The combo of the sweet watermelon, spicy arugula, pungent balsamic and the creamy goat cheese is a winning blend.  Don’t make the same mistake I made of drizzling too much balsamic reduction over the salad.  Less is more.

This would make a festive and tasty addition to a 4th of July BBQ.  Try it and let me know how you like it.



1 large red onion, very thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon date paste (original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon sugar)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

4 (1 inch thick) fresh watermelon slices, rinds removed

1 cup loosely packed arugula

2 oz. crumbled goat cheese


Make date paste by soaking 2 dates in warm water to cover for 10 minutes.  Drain, pit and mash with your fingers.  It should yield 1 tablespoon of date paste.  Combine date paste, red wine vinegar, and kosher salt in the blender and blend until smooth.  Place sliced red onions in a bowl and cover with vinegar mixture.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat 1 minute or until hot.  Add balsamic vinegar, bring to a simmer, and and cook 5 – 10 minutes or until vinegar is reduced to 1/4 cup and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.  This can be done up to 1 day ahead.

Cut each watermelon slice into a 4 inch piece, square or triangle.  Place watermelon on individual plates, top with arugula.  Drain onion slices, discarding marinade.  Arrange onion slices over arugula on each salad and sprinkle with goat cheese.  Lightly drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar, and serve immediately.

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