The best part of summer? Chips, dips, and the like become dinner food. In the summer, snacking is king. It makes perfect sense. When we aren’t held to a schedule, I believe humans are natural-born grazers. When there is sun to soak up, who wants to spend time in front of a stove? Almost every crop and piece of produce is at its peak and the less is more approach is the most successful. And when heatwaves roll in, a plate of spaghetti and meatballs isn’t top of mind for anyone. What is far more likely to capture the imagination? Beer, fridge cold hummus, torn pita bread, and this Whipped Feta with Watermelon Salad.
At this point, I think most people have caught on to the magical combo that is watermelon and feta. Every year there are more and more recipes celebrating this salty/sweet power couple. There are even a few on this blog. But that won’t stop me from adding another version to the pile. Today’s Whipped Feta with Watermelon Salad takes the feta out of the salad and transforms it into a dip as well as a cushy bed for the salad itself. The result is a vibrant starter that delivers salty/sweet perfection in every scoop.
Okay, so now that I’ve piqued your interest, I’m going to seal the deal by telling you just how easy it is to put this dish together. Let’s start with the whipped feta. You have seen whipped feta on this blog before. It served as a dip for my Za’atar Chips a little while back. So if you already have that recipe bookmarked, apologies because things are going to get a little repetitive.
To make whipped feta, you need a food processor. I’m sure there is a low-tech way to make this dip, but I’m too lazy to figure it out. While I don’t know for sure, I’m willing to bet a food processor is your best chance for a smooth and silky whipped feta dip. You will also need yogurt and please, for my sake, use the full-fat stuff. It and only it has the body to pull this dip off. Now, much like mayo or caesar salad dressing, we’re going to create a bit of an emulsion by streaming in some olive oil. Again, we’re doing this so our finished dip has the kind of body and texture we’re looking for.
Once you’ve made the whipped feta, resist the urge to chill it. Whipped feta sets up when it’s introduced to the cold, which reduces its scoop-ability – that is the technical term. On the other hand, if your whipped feta is left in an overly warm environment it will begin to separate. Yes, I know, this dip is exceptionally high-maintenance for a low-effort dip. My advice to you is to either make the whipped feta just before serving it or remember to remove it from the fridge 30 minutes before serving it. It’s up to you.
While this Whipped Feta with Watermelon Salad is incredibly simple and quick to put together, it does require excellent timing. As I said you can make the whipped feta ahead of time if you remember to reacclimatize it before serving. You can also make the watermelon salad in advance as well. You obviously don’t have to remember to take the watermelon salad out of the fridge ahead of time. But I would urge you to keep the feta and the salad separate until just before serving. “Water” is in the title of the salad, so you’re potential for sog city is high. But have said that, you have a good hour before the structural integrity of the whipped feta is compromised.
And speaking of the watermelon salad, let’s talk about it. This is a chop-and-toss-it-into-a-bowl sort of deal. Basically, you pile all the ingredients into the bowl and set it aside while you whisk together the vinaigrette. The dressing is a simple lemon, mint, and honey affair rounded out with minced garlic and olive oil. It’s light, refreshing, and it lets the olives, chilis, and watermelon really shine through. Oh! And don’t forget the salt and pepper. Watermelon loves salt and pepper.
As far as plating goes, this dish is basically playtime. This was so much fun to style and you could do it in hundreds of ways. I went with mint blooms, fresh basil, and daikon microgreens. But you could go with oregano flowers and lemon verbena, or lemon wheels and chili flakes, or really anything you have kicking around. The whipped feta is truly a blank canvas, so express yourself with the garnishes of your choosing.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Whipped Feta with Watermelon Salad. Briny, salty, and sweet this dippable starter brings the best of all worlds to your table in a vibrant, full-color package.
Whipped Feta with Watermelon Salad
- Food Processor
- 400g (14oz) feta cheese crumbled
- ⅓ cup full-fat yogurt
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- ½ mini watermelon cut into cubes
- ⅓ English cucumber quartered and chopped
- ¼ large red onion sliced thin
- ⅓ cup mixed pitted olives
- 3 serrano chili peppers** sliced thin
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh mint finely chopped
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- daikon microgreens***
- fresh basil leaves
- mint blossoms optional
For the Feta
- Place the feta and yogurt in a large food processor. Blitz until a thick paste forms.
- With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil followed by the lemon juice. Continue to blitz until smooth and silky. Cover and set aside.****
For the Watermelon Salad
- Place the watermelon, cucumber, red onion, olives, and chili peppers in a large bowl and set it aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk to combine the olive oil, mint, honey, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Pour the mixture over the watermelon mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Spoon the whipped feta onto a large plate. With the back of a spoon, create a bowl-like indent in the center of the feta. Spoon the watermelon salad into the center, using a slotted spoon.
- Decorate the dish with microgreens, mint blossoms, and basil leaves. Serve immediately with crudites and pita bread.