Blackened Chicken Watermelon Salad.
We love this grilled chicken watermelon salad! Blackened grilled chicken, arugula, watermelon, cucumbers, feta and pistachios drizzled in a watermelon vinaigrette. Super delicious for summer!
You know how much I love a good summer salad.
This blackened chicken salad has so many of favorite things, plus lots of texture, tons of flavor and everything to make a fantastic weeknight meal.
If you have a copy of Everyday Dinners, then you know that there is a grilled chicken watermelon salad in the book. OH MY WORD. This salad guys… the second I started making grilled chicken and watermelon salads? My summer was made.
I photographed that recipe in 2019 and tested it in 2018… meaning I have lots of chicken and watermelon salads under my belt. The combination is so fabulous. It’s the best summer salad because of the smoky, charred chicken paired with the juicy, refreshing watermelon. There are so many things about it that I love.
So this isn’t that exact salad. I know. Which may come as a disappointment since I just raved about it. But you can grab the book!
See, the thing is, that last fall, Eddie grabbed some bagged salads at the grocery store for his work lunches. This was in September, so watermelon season was on its way out. But one of the salads that he grabbed had a watermelon vinaigrette. Like a pre-made, bagged watermelon vinaigrette.
I just about died. WHAT! Why hadn’t I been making watermelon vinaigrette all my life?
So that was that, and ever since I’ve been making watermelon vinaigrette.
Had to wait until it was in season to share it with you, but it was worth the wait. I promise.
P.S. if you’re wondering about the dressing in the book version of this recipe – it’s my chili lime vinaigrette which is equally outstanding. A little heat and lime on this salad is also perfect.
But back to TODAY’s watermelon chicken salad.
I like to do a blackened chicken on the grill because it’s very flavorful and one way I adore eating chicken. I will sometimes double this chicken and grill it, chop it, then store in the fridge for salads, quesadillas and even a quick clean-out-the-fridge pasta.
Here is what makes this salad unique!
- Arugula. Crispy, peppery arugula as the base. It may be my favorite green? I love the bite so much. Of course – use whatever lettuce you like here. Kale would be good, you just need to massage it first. Butter lettuce, romaine, anything!
- The blackened chicken – preferably warm. It doesn’t have to be but have you had warm grilled chicken on a cold, crisp salad? It’s so darn good.
- Watermelon! Of course.
- Cucumbers too! I like the savory, icy, refreshing coolness of the cucumbers in this salad. Also gives a tiny crunch here.
- Feta cheese. I like it crumbled. You could also do goat cheese or even cheddar here. However, the feta + watermelon combo is a classic.
- Pistachios! Live for a super crunch here. Any nut works but the pistachio is so buttery, nutty and it doesn’t hurt with a pretty pop of green.
- Finally, the watermelon vinaigrette. Um, it’s freaking amazing.
This vinaigrette is simple. I highly suggest getting a nutribullet and using it for dressings. It’s what I use it for 95% of the time.
I throw some watermelon cubes in the nutribullet. Any blender will work. No extra liquid needed because the melon is so water packed. I blend it up, then I strain it through a fine mesh strainer (a tiny one like this) to remove the pulp.
Once I have the watermelon juice, I measure out about ¼ cup. You can drink the rest! It’s delicious. Also use it in cocktails, omg.
Then a classic vinaigrette happens here! Some red wine vinegar, a drop of honey, a little garlic, some olive oil. The dressing may have this crazy orange tint to it once it is emulsified. If you’re just whisking the dressing, it may never turn this color completely – but if you use a blender to bring the vinaigrette together, it will. Still tastes the same and is practically drinkable.
So there you have it! A new summer salad. One to make for dinner tonight. To enjoy all season long!
Grilled Chicken Watermelon Salad
Blackened Chicken Watermelon Salad
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 8 ounces baby arugula greens
- 2 cups cubed watermelon
- 2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ⅓ cup chopped roasted, salted pistachios
- Preheat the grill to the highest setting.
- I like to pound the chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer so they are all even in thickness. This is required, but helps! In a bowl, whisk together the smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, a big pinch of salt and pepper and the crushed red pepper. Sprinkle it all over the chicken on both sides.
- Once the grill is hot, place the chicken directly on the grates and grill for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken and let it rest for 10 minutes while you assemble the salad.
- Place the arugula in a bowl and toss with a pinch of salt and pepper. Top with the watermelon, cucumber, feta and pistachios. Slice or chop the grilled chicken and place it on the salad. Drizzle with the watermelon vinaigrette and serve!
- Place the watermelon in a blender and blend until pureed. Once pureed, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pulp and collect the juice. Measure out ¼ cup of the watermelon juice. That is all you need for the dressing - you can drink the rest! The amount of cubes you need will differ depending on the water content of your melon.
- I like to use a blender for the dressing but you can also use a whisk. Add the ¼ cup watermelon juice, vinegar, lime juice, honey, a big pinch of salt and pepper, garlic and olive oil to a blender. Blend until emulsified. This stays great in the fridge for a few days and just needs shaken or whisked before using.