This refreshing plant-based salad is sure to satisfy both your taste buds and nourish your body. Every bite is loaded with fiber, water, plant-based protein, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and delicious flavor to keep you going on a hot summer day.
I don’t crave salads often, but when I do, you bet they are going to be loaded with plant-based goodness and tons of satisfying ingredients. Salads are a great way to increase daily fiber consumption and get familiar with seasonal produce. Although watermelon is the highlight of this dish, there are so many other ingredients that make this Watermelon Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Dressing nutrient-packed and a great contributor to a plant-based diet.
Let’s Talk Watermelon
Picking the perfect watermelon is serious business! Just kidding (kind of). But don’t worry, you’re going to have a blast doing it if you don’t mind being that person at the grocery store or farmer’s market! This Watermelon Salad is sweetened with this juicy fruit, so let’s pick the best one.
You’ll want to choose a seedless watermelon unless you plan on picking out those black seeds one by one. When choosing the best watermelon, you first want to give those watermelons a little tap with your knuckles. Listen for that sweet, melodious thump like it’s singing to you, “Pick me, pick me!” Next, check for that creamy, buttery-yellow spot, that’s the telltale sign of a sun-kissed watermelon that’s been lounging in the sunshine. Now, it’s time to judge the skin. My nutrition practice has no place for judgment, unless the judgment is about picking the right produce. Look for web-like lines in the skin of your watermelon. When you hold it with both hands, it should be heavy for its size and mostly uniform in shape. Let’s recap: thump, spot, lines, weight.
This tropical delight is not only a delicious, refreshing fruit, but it’s also extremely nutrient-dense. Watermelon is packed with vitamins A and C, giving your immune system some major love. Vitamin B6 and potassium are both packed into watermelon. Potassium is an essential mineral for heart health, as it helps the body maintain healthy blood pressure.
Lycopene is a natural compound found in watermelon giving it its red-pink color. Acting as a powerful antioxidant, lycopene is shown to help decrease the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and some age-related eye disorders. Antioxidants work to slow down the damage of aging cells in the body. Along with potassium, lycopene can also help lower blood pressure to healthy levels.
This juicy fruit is also like a hydration party in your mouth because it’s 92% water. As a dietitian, I’m always reminding my clients that we are hydrated by more than just plain water. The foods we eat, like fruits and vegetables, provide the body with a lot of fluids that we often don’t account for.
More Than Just Watermelon
Before we dig into this sensational Watermelon Salad, let’s shine some light on the other amazing plant-based ingredients that make this dish complete with flavor and nutrition.. Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet works wonders for your health, the animal, and the planet. Not only are plant-based diets rich in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but they also support healthy digestion and optimize the gut-brain connection to make sure we’re happy people (i.e. your gut health impacts your mood). By choosing plant-based protein for your salad, you’ll play a part in reducing your carbon footprint while improving your overall health.
- Blueberries: These tiny bursts of flavor are nutritional powerhouses! Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. They also support brain health and can improve memory and cognitive function.
- Quinoa: This ancient grain brings a protein punch to our salad. Quinoa is a complete protein, providing all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for plant-based eaters.
- Arugula & Spring Lettuce Mix: The leafy greens in this salad are brimming with vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, folate, and iron. Arugula adds a peppery zing, while the Spring Mix Lettuce provides a blend of flavors and textures, making every mouthful a delightful surprise.
- Cucumber & Red Onion: These crunchy veggies lend a refreshing bite to the salad. Cucumbers are mostly water, contributing to the hydration factor, while red onions provide a splash of color and a dose of antioxidants.
- Fresh Mint Leaves: Mint leaves bring a burst of freshness and aroma, awakening your senses with each forkful. They also offer digestive benefits, soothing any digestive discomfort you may experience.
- Roasted Nuts: These delightful nuts bring a satisfying crunch and a hint of rosemary’s earthy flavor. Packed with healthy fats and protein, they make the salad more filling and provide sustained energy throughout the day. I like to make my own roasted rosemary nut mix, but you can use store-bought to help save time.
- Dairy-Free Feta Cheese: Pure joy. I want all your eating experiences to bring you joy, and adding some dairy-free cheese can be a fun way to incorporate some fun into a salad.
- Blueberry Balsamic Dressing: Let’s not forget the powerful antioxidants found in blueberries or the omega-3 fatty acids found in chia seeds. This Blueberry Balsamic Dressing is a sneaky nutritional boost.
Keep It Creative
Salads are like canvases for your culinary creativity. There are so many options for combinations of ingredients! With an array of colors, textures, and flavors, the possibilities are endless. You can customize this Watermelon Salad according to your taste preferences and seasonal availability. Swap arugula for baby spinach or add roasted chickpeas for an extra protein boost. Experiment with different nuts, fruits, and dressings until you find your perfect combination!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this Watermelon Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Dressing. Thank you for sharing a rating and feel free to leave a comment below! For more intuitive cooking tips and plant-based recipes, check out my main blog page here and visit me on Instagram @plantbased.and.intuitive.
Watermelon Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Dressing
- 5 cups Spring mix lettuce
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 cup cooked red quinoa
- 2 cups cubed watermelon
- ½ cup roasted rosemary nuts store-bought or homemade
- ½ cup de-seeded & thinly sliced cucumber
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese dairy-free, as needed
- ¼ cup torn fresh mint leaves
Blueberry Balsamic Dressing
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup frozen wild blueberries thawed with juices
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ teaspoon iodized salt
- Black pepper, to taste (optional)
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap & warm water.
- In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, combine Spring lettuce mix, arugula, quinoa, watermelon, nuts, cucumber, and red onion.
- Make the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small blender or base of an immersion blender. Blend until smooth.
- Add half the dressing to salad mix, and use tongs to toss until well mixed and throughly dressed. Add additional dressing based on your preference. Add feta cheese and mint leaves, and gently toss to incorporate throughout the salad.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Leftover dressing can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.