This Watermelon-Arugula Salad is Basically Summer, Served

Easy, refreshing, and ready for hot-weather enjoyment, summer’s most quintessential superfood salad is filled with crisp fruit, peppery veg, and fresh flavors. Believe it or not, watermelon makes a surprisingly good companion in salads, offering a generous juiciness that’s reminiscent of a cucumber (which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise really, considering they’re botanically related!).

Additionally, watermelon is a surprisingly beneficial functional food (and is even listed as one of the top everyday brain-boosting foods in Smart Plants). That’s because it contains high amounts of several micronutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and several B vitamins. What’s more, watermelon is an exceptional source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant touted for its protective heart and brain benefits. You may know tomatoes as a famously a good source of lycopene … but watermelon actually contains 40% more of this special antioxidant!

Research shows lycopene is better absorbed by your body when combined with healthy fat, so pairing watermelon in a salad like this one that’s naturally full of monounsaturated fats and omegas is truly ideal. We also add ample amounts of fresh arugula, an exemplary superfood that’s often used to improve bone health, reduce inflammation, detoxify the body, and more. And when tossed with a homemade lemon-chia vinaigrette, all our fresh flavors really come alive.

The final secret to this epic dish is the exceptional Almond Ricotta—yes, the recipe we shared last week—which pulls this recipe over the top into “can’t stop eating” levels. The ultimate result is a fully sophisticated (yet exceptionally easy) dish that is sure to impress … and invigorate.

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Sure, salads are simple by nature. Still, a couple small details can ensure the most impressive outcome.

  • Use seedless watermelon. Unless you’re game to pick out hundreds of tiny seeds, use a seedless watermelon for this recipe. And beware: even seedless varieties will still have a few seeds embedded in the flesh, so be sure to remove them before adding the watermelon cubes to the salad.

  • Aim for bite-size. When chopping the watermelon, try to cut the fruit into 1-inch cubes, or "bite-size" pieces. Too small and the watermelon will release too much water; too big and the watermelon will be hard to toss and enjoy.

  • Think "thin" with the radishes. Radishes can be spicy! To better distribute their flavor, slice them as thinly as possible: you can either use a mandaline, or show off your knife skills with a chef's knife.

  • Make or buy high-quality ricotta. We highly recommend making a batch of our Almond Ricotta for this recipe for outstanding results (and you’ll have plenty remaining to use for other recipes too!). If time prohibits a homemade route, look for high quality ricotta cheese to use from the market: we find the healthiest and best-tasting varieties to be ones that are made from nuts, as opposed to soy or dairy … but use what you can find!

  • Toss just before serving. Like most salads, dressing the salad too soon will break down the crisp structure of the vegetables, as well as encourage the release of water from the produce. For the best texture, toss with dressing right before enjoying.


Watermelon-Arugula Salad with Ricotta & Lemon

Sweet watermelon sings when combined with creamy ricotta, peppery arugula, and bathed in a lemon-chia vinaigrette. Since watermelon is so moisture-rich, make the ricotta and dressing ahead, and toss the salad together just before serving.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 0 | Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 
Author: Julie Morris 



½ lemon

½ cup Almond Ricotta, or store-bought dairy-free ricotta

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon chia seeds

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

6 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 cups baby arugula

4 radishes, sliced thin

¼ cup torn mint leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish

¼ cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

Flaked salt, for serving (optional)



1. Zest the lemon half in a small mixing bowl (reserve the remainder of the lemon half for the dressing in the next step). Add the ricotta, as well as 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix well, and keep on standby.

2. To make the dressing, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a separate small bowl. Add the maple syrup, chia sees, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and ground black pepper. Juice the lemon half into the bowl as well, then whisk together to combine.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, arugula, radishes and mint leaves. Just before serving, add the dressing, and toss gently.

4. For each serving, spread some of the lemony ricotta onto a plate (you can also plate everything on one large platter for a shared dish), and top with the watermelon salad. Sprinkle with pepitas, a little flaked salt, and garnish with a few mint sprigs.


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