Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Salad over Arugula is a playful, yet sophisticated entrée that is bursting with summer flavors.
I love watermelon salad, it’s one of my favorite summer dishes. You may have already tried watermelon salad made with cucumbers, feta, and mint (yum!), well I also make a version with blue cheese and basil. My mom calls it my “Italian” version. I really love the combination of the sweet watermelon, the savory blue cheese, and the tangy balsamic. I knew I wanted to include those flavors in this recipe too.
Because I wanted this salad to be a dinner entrée, I needed some protein and some greens; the shrimp and arugula work really well in this dish. I love how the sweet, salty, tangy, bitter, and smoky flavors all mingle together and make a little party. Add a glass of crisp white wine, and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation!
I used a small, almost round watermelon, which was about 5lbs. I only needed two slices of watermelon, for this salad, so I left the rest un-gilled for my kids (and me) to snack on later.
There is already a lot going on in this salad, so I kept the shrimp simple by just seasoning them with salt and pepper, and brushing them with olive oil.
Here is a shot of my grilled shrimp:
This was actually two pounds of shrimp, because I wanted leftovers for lunch during the week. Guess what… my husband and two sons ate ALL of the shrimp! Those little pigs! I suggest 1 pound of shrimp for this recipe because I like that ratio of shrimp to other salad stuff, but if you want some leftovers, or if you suspect that there are some shrimp-hogs in your house, go ahead and grill two pounds.
Here is a great video on how to skewer shrimp for grilling:
I like this Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Trader Joes for the vinaigrette. A good rule of thumb is to avoid vinegar with added sugar and caramel coloring; a decent balsamic does not need the additives.
A little trick for getting perfect crosshatch marks on your watermelon slices, is to think of your grill as a clock face. If the grates run from 12:00 to 6:00, then lay your slices to run from 10:00 to 4:00, and when you are about halfway through grilling one side, turn the slices to run from 2:00 to 8:00.
- Two 1” thick slices from a round 5 lb seedless watermelon, (about 8-9” in diameter).
- ¼ cup olive oil, for brushing watermelon and shrimp
- 1 lb medium size shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cleaned, (about 25 per pound)
- 8 cups of loosely packed baby arugula
- ½ cup of crumbled blue cheese, (omit for dairy free)
- fine ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- For the balsamic vinaigrette:
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp Dijon mustrd
- ½ tsp raw honey
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp course kosher fine ground sea salt
- Soak 3 wooden skewers in clean, cold water for 10 minutes.
- Preheat a clean and seasoned grill to high.
- Cut two 1” thick slices of watermelon, you can either trim off the rinds before or after grilling. Save remaining watermelon for future snacking or another recipe.
- Brush watermelon slices, on one side with olive oil, about 1 & ½ tsp of oil per slice.
- You only need to grill the slices on one side. Lay the slices oiled-side-down, onto the grill and close the grill lid. After about 90 seconds, quarter turn (don’t flip), the slices to create crosshatch marks and grill for another 90 seconds.
- Remove to a cutting board and allow slices to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Clean and season the grill, then heat back to high.
- Following the directions from the video above, skewer shrimp onto soaked wooden skewers, approximately 8 shrimp per skewer for 1 pound of shrimp, (or 10 shrimp per skewer if you will cook 2 pounds).
- I left the tails on my shrimp because I think they are pretty, but you could remove the tails if you prefer.
- If your shrimp are moist, pat them dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper, and then brush fronts, and backs of the skewered shrimp with olive oil, about 1 Tbs per skewer.
- Grill shrimp for 2 minutes on one side, with the grill lid closed. Then flip the skewers and cook for 1 more minute, lid closed. Remove to a clean platter; the shrimp will continue to cook, off of the heat, as they rest.
- Meanwhile, cut the watermelon slices into 1” cubes.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together the balsamic, Dijon, honey, olive oil and salt.
- In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula with the balsamic vinaigrette and season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Sprinkle the dressed arugula with crumbled blue cheese, and top with cubed watermelon and grilled shrimp (removed from skewers).