This Watermelon and Grilled Peach Salad is just perfect as a hot summer salad. The watermelon is juicy and firm with hints of honey and basil. The peaches give the salad a taste of savoriness and smoky char. The feta cheese adds some salty, briny, creaminess to the fresh and sweet. And the homemade honey balsamic glaze completes the salad with floral sweetness and a balanced, fruity tang.
Have you guys been indulging in some good watermelons and peaches since they're in the peak of their season? The watermelons are so juicy and sweet right now! And thanks to the peaches we bought, we don't even have to light candles in the house for every room to smell amazing, lol. 💖 Well, that is until we eat all the peaches and that is not a very long time, haha. 😆
Having both watermelon and peaches at home, we decided to make one of my favorite salads, compressed watermelon and grilled peach salad! Everything in it is so balanced. It's got sweet, some savory, smokiness, saltiness, tang, creaminess, and freshness. I almost wanted to add some cayenne to give it some heat XD...actually I did try the salad with some cayenne, and it tasted fantastic!
Now, let's dive into some Q&A and tips to making this perfect summer salad!
How do you pick a good watermelon?
As any dish, it is very important to start out with good ingredients and picking out a good watermelon is not any less important. Our trick to picking our a good watermelon...and it works 95% of the time...is by color and sound!
First, we look for watermelon that's darker green. This help us determine the sweetness. It's really easy to tell which watermelons are darker when you have other watermelons to compare to. Next, we knock on the watermelon. This is a trick I learned from my parents, and they swear by it. My parents always say that you must chose a watermelon that sounds hollow. Hollow sounds indicate that the watermelon is juicy, which means that it's most likely also sweet.
Kyong played around with the salad components and made a plated version of the watermelon and grilled peach salad! The watermelon was compressed, but cut differently. He sliced some peaches super, duper thin and made a rose. Instead of grilling the peach, he torched it to achieve a char flavor. The salad was topped with crumbled feta, honey balsamic glaze, basil, and some cayenne. It was yummy!
What does compressing the watermelon do?
Compressing a watermelon can change the texture of the watermelon and also infuse flavor. Normally, a watermelon would be crisp and juicy. However, when watermelon gets compressed, the flesh gets compacted, feels dense, and becomes extra juicy.
On the other hand, watermelon can be compressed to also infuse flavor. In this recipe, our watermelon was infused with honey and basil. The honey made the watermelon sweeter along with a hint of floral, while the basil gets lightly perfumed throughout the watermelon without having to eat any basil.
How to compress watermelon with honey and basil:
- Remove the watermelon rind and slice the watermelon into 1 inch slices.
- Place the watermelon slices into FoodSaver bags and rub both sides of the watermelon slices with some honey. Then, place a leaf of basil on each side of the watermelon. If you prefer, you can cut the basil with a sharp knife or tear the basil with your hands and scatter the pieces onto the watermelon.
- Vacuum the bag to remove as much air as possible and seal the bag.
- Depending on how strong the vacuum is, it may take longer or no time at all to infuse the basil and honey flavor. For us, our watermelon was ready after we finished preparing our peaches.
Do I need to grill my peaches for the salad?
That is really up to personal preference. We wanted to grill our peaches because we wanted to give our salad a touch of savoriness and a hint of smokiness from the char. But if you're not up to it, that is perfectly okay!
To grill peaches for the salad:
- Cut the peaches into large wedges, about 6 wedge per peach.
- You want to pick peaches that are just ripe and still firm. Unripe peaches are too firm and have very minimal flavor, while too ripe peaches are usually too mushy and bleh for cooking.
- Make sure your grill, in our case, a cast iron griddle pan (less cleaning lol) is HOT.
- The griddle pan needs to be hot because you only want to keep the peaches on the pan for the shortest amount of time. Too long of a cooking time, and you'll have hot, mushy peaches, and probably no good grill marks.
- Brush the griddle pan with vegetable oil and place the peach wedges onto the griddle. The peaches should be immediately sizzling loudly.
- Grill the peaches for about 30 seconds or until there are good char marks. Repeat on the other side. Make sure to not grill the peaches for too long, or they'll be extra mushy!
What is balsamic glaze?
Balsamic glaze is basically reduced balsamic vinegar with or without the addition of a sweetener, like honey, maple syrup, brown or regular granulated sugar. Once reduced, balsamic vinegar goes from a watery, vinegar consistency to a thick and glossy, but still pourable syrup consistency.
How do you make balsamic glaze?
It is really easy to make homemade balsamic glaze, and you only need 1 to 2 ingredients, depending on if you want the glaze to be sweeter.
- First, combine the balsamic vinegar with your desired sweetener, if using any, in a saucepan.
- Mix the balsamic mixture and bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Let the mixture simmer and reduce to about ½ the amount, depending on the brand of balsamic vinegar you're using.
- The syrup should be thick, glossy, and flows like syrup. It should also be able to lightly coat the back of a spoon.
- Make sure to not over reduce the balsamic glaze because it will continue to thicken as it cools. Also, over reducing the balsamic glaze will make the glaze bitter!
Can I use a different cheese beside feta?
Absolutely! You are welcomed to trade feta for your preferred cheese. We recommend either feta or goat cheese, like chèvre, because they're a bit salty and briny with a good balanced tang and nice creaminess that pairs with the fruit salad super well.
Can I substitute basil for mint in the watermelon and grilled peach salad?
Yes! You are more than welcomed to substitute mint for basil in this recipe. Both mint and basil complement the salad really well and emphasize freshness that's perfect for a summer salad.
If you're looking for other summer recipes, you may like these:
- All Natural Pink Lemonade with Black Wolfberries
- Easy Red Wine Sangria
- Coconut Mango Tapioca Pudding
- Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream
Cook with love!
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipe from our blog, please tag us on Instagram @two_plaid_aprons! We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Watermelon and Grilled Peach Salad
For the honey balsamic glaze:
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoon honey (or to taste)
For the compressed watermelon:
- 2½ pound watermelon (about ⅓ of a 12 inch watermelon)
- 4 Tablespoon honey
- 9 leaves basil (optional: more for garnish)
For the rest of the salad:
- 3 white peach (ripe but firm)
- ½ cup feta cheese (crumbled)
- oil (for grilling)
For the honey balsamic glaze:
- In a medium saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey. Stir the mixture and bring it to a simmer. Let the glaze simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes or until the glaze thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.Transfer the honey balsamic glaze to a clean bowl and let it cool to room temperature.*Make sure to not over reduce the balsamic glaze or it will become bitter. If you only slightly over reduce the glaze, and it's not bitter, you can thin it out by adding a small amount of water.*
For the compressed watermelon:
- *This step is added to infuse extra sweetness and basil flavor to the watermelon. So feel free to skip if you prefer.*Slice the watermelon into 1 inch thick slices. Rub both sides of each watermelon with honey and arrange them into FoodSaver bags. On each slice of watermelon, place a leaf of basil on each side. Vacuum and seal the FoodSaver bag. Chill in the fridge until needed.
For the rest of the Watermelon and Grilled Peach Salad:
- Wash and cut each peach into 6 even wedges. In a cast iron griddle pan over medium high heat, brush with some vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, place the peach wedges onto the griddle pan. The pan should make out loud sizzle sounds. Grill each wedge of peach until dark grill marks appear, about 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Remove from heat.*DO NOT overcook the peaches or they will become mushy. We are only looking for grill marks and an added touch of smokiness.*
- Remove the watermelon from the FoodSaver bag and dice them into 1 inch cubes. Stack the basil leaves and thinly slice them.
- Arrange the cubed watermelon and grilled peaches onto plates or platters. Sprinkle the thinly sliced basils and crumbled feta on the salad. Drizzle the salad with the honey balsamic glaze and top with some fresh leaves of basils.Enjoy!