Tomato Watermelon Salad with Harissa Dressing

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Is it early for summer produce to be arriving? Even in California? Seems so to me, but I’m not complaining. The farmers’ markets are filling with all things summer–nectarines and peaches, tomatoes and even some melons! My fingers are crossed for a long, pleasant growing season. But the reality is that the lack of rain and scorching temperatures may have a negative impact on farmers and their crops. As with all farm fresh foods, we enjoy these goodies while we can, even if they are early….especially if they are early.

Yesterday, I picked up a jar of harissa, a Tunisian chili sauce, at the international market near my house. My initial idea was to create a sort of caprese-style salad with a creamy harissa dressing, but when I realized that I still had a little watermelon in the fridge, the salad morphed into the beautiful concoction pictured above. A few summers back, I discovered the brilliant combination of tomatoes and watermelons. The red flesh of the tomatoes and the watermelon are a perfect match, but where the watermelon is crisp and sweet, the tomato is tart and yielding. The textures and flavors work amazingly well together, especially when sprinkled with salty cheese.

In this salad, I topped a few handfuls of spicy arugula with heirloom tomatoes (each chopped or sliced a bit differently for interest), watermelon chunks, cubes of feta and mint leaves. I made a simple dressing of Greek yogurt, lemon juice and harissa which I then drizzled over the top. And because I was feeling extra crazy, I threw on some chickpeas and sprinkled the whole mess with chopped bacon. Think of it as a Middle Eastern BLT. It’s spicy, sweet, salty and just about the perfect thing to eat on a warm summer day.

Tomato Watermelon Salad with Harissa Dressing
Prep time
Total time
This summer salad would make the perfect side dish to grilled steak or chicken, or can be served as a main course with the addition of chickpeas and/or bacon. The creamy harissa dressing can be as mild or as spicy as you want. Add the harissa sparingly at can always add more later.
Serves: serves 2-3
  • 4 ounces wild arugula (rocket)
  • 1 pound heirloom tomatoes, sliced or cut into chunks
  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • extra mint leaves, for garnish
For the dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
  • ⅓ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon harissa
  • pinch of salt
  1. Spread the arugula over a large platter. Top with the tomato slices, chunks of watermelon and feta cheese. Sprinkle salt lightly over the tomatoes and watermelon.
  2. Prepare the dressing. Whisk the mint, yogurt, lemon juice and harissa in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Drizzle dressing over the salad.
  3. Top with the chickpeas and bacon (if using). Garnish with additional mint leaves. Serve immediately.


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