All it takes to make this super simple, totally fresh, cucumber, watermelon and red bell pepper salad is a few minutes of chopping and an easy sesame and lime-flavored Asian dressing for a totally crunchy bite.
“But wait, I was going to make my Mediterranean panzanella salad…”
My recipe making plans were foiled once again. I had my heart set, but when my husband told me he was making his favorite Asian chicken lettuce wraps to take with us for our outdoor concert picnicking with the Drive By Truckers at SLC’s Red Butte Gardens, I said, “Hey, no big deal, I can switch things out to go with that.”
So with a simple pivot and a few ingredient swaps, I created a salad the fit right into my husband’s Asian-inspired menu plans.
That’s what I love about super simple recipes like this one: it doesn’t take much to change it to fit any ethnic flavor profile, creating something totally fresh and totally new that fits into whatever you’re craving now. Plus,because it’s sturdy ingredients, this one is a great salad for potlucks or brunch, lunch, or dinners, and it holds up in the fridge, even for a few days.
There isn’t much about this recipe that takes a whole lot of time or requires a whole lot of effort, and the ingredients are seasonal, fresh right now, but also readily available any time of year.
I used regular garden-style cucumbers, the same variety you’d add to any green salad, but you can also use hothouse cucumbers or Persian cucumbers for that desired crunch that only cucumbers can provide. Cut your cucumbers on the larger side so that you can really get a mouth full of flavor.
To add a bite of fresh sweetness I added chunks of watermelon that totally compliments the savory Thai flavors of the dressing. Once again, I cut the pieces in about the same size as the cucumbers and the red bell pepper, keeping each bite just about the same size. If you’re looking to add a little more pizzazz in your presentation, use a melon baller like I did in this salad for a touch more dramatic flair.
The salad dressing really could be easier. Use a good quality seasoned rice wine vinegar, a bit of lime juice, and just a touch of sesame oil to build the Asian Thai flavored profile. I preferred to grate my fresh ginger with a microplane instead of mincing it so it melds into the dressing and you can avoid those hot spicy ginger bites.
Delicious Main Dish Recipe Ideas to Serve With this Salad
Make dinner great again when you cook brown or white rice, quinoa, or soba noodles as a side to this salad with one of the dinner recipes below.
Crunchy Asian Cucumber Watermelon Salad
If you like a heavier sesame oil flavor in the dressing, add more in 1/4 teaspoon amounts to taste, but be careful because sesame oil can quickly overwhelm whatever it's added to.
- 2 cucumbers, cut into 1-inch pieces and then quartered
- 2 cups watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch squares
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil
- Place the chopped cucumbers, watermelon, red bell pepper and red onion in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, grated ginger, lime juice, sesame oil and kosher and add to the cucumber mixture. Toss lightly then add the fresh herbs and season with more kosher salt to taste. Refrigerate and serve.
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