Watermelon Salad with Preserved Lemon

A cool and refreshing watermelon salad with preserved lemon, mint and olives @mjskitchen #watermelon #preserved #lemon


Several years ago when Bobby and I were spending a long weekend in Taos, New Mexico, we went to the El Meze Restaurant for dinner. We had a marvelous meal as we always do at the El Meze, but the shining star of the evening was a watermelon salad with preserved lemons.  It was SO good that we went back a couple days later, just so we could have it again.  This second time, I paid extra special attention to the ingredients and flavors because I knew I would want to be able to make this salad at home.

The recipe below is my adaptation of the El Meze watermelon salad.  I know that the salad ingredients are the same, but the dressing is a little different.  I believe that the original salad used a drizzle of reduced balsamic.  I chose to go with a Ruby port and balsamic drizzle.  The port is a nice complement to the balsamic and works for us.

If you do ever get a chance to visit Taos, New Mexico, be sure to have a least one of your meals at the El Meze.  This watermelon salad is no longer on its menu, but the buffalo tamales are and they are awesome! The other wonderful thing about this restaurant is the view.  The back patio faces the Taos mountains to the east, treating dinner guests to a gorgeous New Mexico mountain sunset.


A cool and refreshing watermelon salad with preserved lemon, mint and olives @mjskitchen #watermelon #preserved #lemon


Watermelon and Preserved Lemon Salad Recipe

Recipe adapted by MJ’s Kitchen from the El Meze in Taos, New Mexico

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 20 minutes


4 cups watermelon, 1″ cubes (chilled)
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
8 – 10 Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
¼ preserved lemon, pulp removed, rind sliced thin
¼ cup sweet onion, sliced thin
Fresh mint, chopped

Balsamic Port Vinaigrette

1 ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. ruby port
1 ½ tsp. honey
2 tsp. canola oil


  1. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, port and honey. Whisk in the oil.
  2. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on each of 2 salad plates.
  3. Place 2 cup of cubed watermelon in the center of each plate.
  4. Sprinkle the top the watermelon with the preserved lemon, onion, and feta.
  5. Distribute the olive around the perimeter of the plates.
  6. If you want, you can drizzle any remaining vinaigrette over the top of the salad, but I’d try the salad first.

This makes a great salad for a large group.  Just mince the onion, olives, and preserved lemon and toss with the cubes of watermelon, feta and mint.  Place a pitcher of the vinaigrette next to the bowl and let your guests drizzle a little on each serving.



A cool and refreshing watermelon salad with preserved lemon, mint and olives | mjskitchen.com


Parting Shots from Taos, New Mexico

Thought I would share a few pictures of this particular trip to Taos, New Mexico, in August 2009.  The first two pictures are at dusk just west of Taos above the Rio Grande.

The Rio Grande north of Taos, New Mexico @mjskitchen


The Rio Grande in northern New Mexico | mjskitchen.com

We stayed at a beautiful little Bed & Breakfast with a patio garden in full bloom and hundreds of hummingbirds.

Butterfly on Flower

Even with about 20 feeders, there were so many hummingbirds that they would feed 4 to 5 to a feeder, all at the same time. The hard part was where to point the camera. Hummingbirds are fast! 🙂

Hummingbird in flight

Hope you enjoyed a little taste of Taos, New Mexico – its surroundings and its food.  Even though you can’t get this watermelon salad with preserved lemons anymore at the El Meze, you can definitely make it at home.  It’s quite easy to make and really highlights the refreshing goodness of watermelon.

Can’t get enough watermelon? Be sure to check out my other watermelon posts.

A Piece From the Heart

Watermelon Coolers

Watermelon Rind Candies

Need more recipes with preserved lemons?

30+ Recipes with Preserved Lemons

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49 Responses to “Watermelon Salad with Preserved Lemon”

  1. Mette August 16, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    I love this summer salad, although I normally make it with a more simple dressing. Have to try this along with the addition of preserved lemon and olives.

    • mj August 17, 2015 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks Mette! The lemon really transforms it. Hope you do try it.

  2. The Duo Dishes August 14, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

    Yes preserved lemons! Love that salty, tangy flavor. This is the first time seeing them paired with a sweet fruit, but it makes total sense.

    • mj August 17, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      Thanks! Always fun to find another preserved lemon lover!

  3. Sissi August 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    We’ve been having a particularly hot summer (though today there is a typical Swiss moderate summer day, luckily!) so I’ve eaten lots of watermelon (my favourite for big heat) and yet once more forgotten to test it in savoury dishes. Your salad looks absolutely fantastic!
    The hummingbird’s photograph is so magical… like from National Geographic! Your holidays sound fabulous.

    • mj August 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! Watermelon is truly the best food to eat in the summer. It’s so refreshing. I need to get out tomorrow and try to find my mother a good watermelon. It’s 105F where I am. HOT!!!!

  4. wok with ray August 10, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Amazing and beautiful scene of the mountains. It must be an enjoyable and relaxing trip for you and Bobby. The watermelon salad looks very refreshing and lite. I hope you have a wonderful week, MJ! 🙂

    • mj August 10, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

      Thanks for much Ray! It was a very relaxing trip!

  5. Treat and Trick August 8, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    Wow your photos looks stunning! Love this simple salad with great flavor. Thanks for your lovely comment on my Pomegranate & Mango Baked Oatmeal and sharing it too..

    • mj August 10, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

      Thanks so much for your nice comments! and you are most welcome. Loved the oatmeal!

  6. Barb Bamber August 8, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    I have been meaning to make a batch of preserved lemon for some time and now I have another reason to! I haven’t been to Taos but it’s definitely on my bucket list. Beautiful travel photos here today! xx

    • mj August 10, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

      Thanks so much Barb and thanks for stopping by!

  7. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles August 7, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Did you know that August 3rd was national watermelon day? (neither did I) — I happened to coincidentally post a watermelon salad on instagram that day and was informed of my timing ;-).

    Beautiful salad MJ. I have never seen this salad presented with preserved lemon and to my mind it’s the star here – brilliant addition. Your balsamic port vinaigrette is running a close second though :D. What a fabulous click of the hummingbird! I’ve read that they flap their wings up to 200 times per second… amazing.

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

      No I did not know about August 3! So I was a day late. 🙂 Thanks for your nice comments as always Kelly! The hummingbird shot was pure luck. 🙂 Nova did a great story on hummers a couple of years ago. What amazing birds!

  8. Karen (Back Road Journal) August 7, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    I like your addition of the port…I’m sure it really enhances the flavor of the watermelon. Thanks for sharing a lovely and different salad.

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

      Thanks so much Karen! I love port and love using it in food. And it goes great with balsamic.

  9. Christine August 7, 2015 at 5:13 am #

    Absolutely love preserved lemon and have been looking for more ways to use it. Found you through FoodGawker (so glad I did!)

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Christine! So glad you found me! I too am always looking for more and more ways to use preserved lemons. I make a batch every year and do a good job going through it.

  10. The Surprised Gourmet August 7, 2015 at 4:54 am #

    Great salad for these hot summer days we’re having. Beautiful photos too.

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      Thank you very much!

  11. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz August 6, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    I am so envious every time you add trip pics, even if older! And wow on the salad, a watermelon and preserved lemon combo is unique but sounds really great.

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks so much Evelyne! I think the reason why the preserved lemon works for me is because I love the salt my watermelon and the lemons are quite salty. Love the combo!

  12. Shashi at RunninSrilankan August 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Those are some GORGEOUS GORGEOUS photos of Taos! Now, about this salad – MJ – I am in awe of all the flavors – this would be such a delight to nibble on!

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

      Thanks so much Shashi! Taos and the surrounding area is just beautiful. These pictures barely touch the surface.

  13. Debra August 6, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    Pinning El Meze for our next trip. Love all the pics!

    • mj August 7, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

      You can go wrong at El Meze! Thanks!

  14. Anna @ shenANNAgans August 5, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

    My dad used to be a truck driver, and one of the runs he did often involved epic amounts of watermelons. We had us a hearty supply of the delicious fruit, amazing just how versatile they are huh? I cant wait for summer to dig into a giant bowl of this yumminess.

    Love that last picture of the hummingbird. How amazing to capture that. 🙂

    • mj August 6, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks Anna! Yep, my grandad and Uncle use to grow watermelon commercially so we always had a summer of unlimited watermelon. It was wonderful! 🙂

  15. Liz August 5, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    Another reason to hunt down another jar of preserved lemons! What a gorgeous summer salad!

    • mj August 6, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks Liz! You should make your own jar of preserved lemons. It’s easy! 🙂

  16. Nisa Homey August 5, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Love love your pics, MJ! The salad is amazing and a must try.

    • mj August 6, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks so much Nisa!

  17. Nads August 5, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    Another one that looks truly amazing. I don’t have the preserved lemons but i’ll think of something to substitute. Maybe lemon juice and zest? I love the combination of sweet with cheeses like feta. The olives should add plenty of salt balance. I will definitely give this one a shot. Love you!

    • Nads August 5, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

      So I couldn’t wait – I made this for dinner tonight – at least an adaptation of it and it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! I didn’t put onion in it because Brynn is allergic to raw onion and i used lemon zest and the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and Asiago cheese. In the dressing i used 3 different balsamics instead of port. Each of us had 3 servings. It was a side for a grilled ham steak and white beans. Wonderful!!!!

      • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

        Fantastic!!! Thanks for letting me know! I love the alterations. I’ll have to try with Asiago now. 🙂 Thanks!

    • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks Nads! Yes, some lemon zest would work OR you could make the overnight preserved lemons. They are almost as good and you can make just what you need.

  18. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef August 5, 2015 at 4:42 am #

    These photos are so wonderful and I could live on watermelon. I love the addition of the preserved lemons. I always have them but don’t use them often enough.

    • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

      Thanks so very much Maureen! I’m with you..I could live on watermelon with some peaches thrown in. 🙂 I make a batch of preserved lemons once a year and easily go through it during the year. I just love the flavor they add to food!

  19. Angie@Angie's Recipes August 5, 2015 at 4:18 am #

    You are an excellent photographer, MJ. The colour, the flavour and freshness of your salad are just amazing.

    • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

      Thank you so much Angie for the nice compliments! I never took pictures until I started this blog, so it’s still a struggle at times. But it’s been fun. Hope you get to try the salad. It is all those things!

  20. Hotly Spiced August 4, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    I love the hummingbird and your photos of New Mexico are gorgeous. I do love a watermelon salad. I usually make mine with feta and olives and I’m due for a new recipe so I’d love to try your version with preserved lemons. This is such a great salad to enjoy when the heat is on xx

    • Hotly Spiced August 4, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

      Sorry…meant to say with the addition of preserved lemons. My recipe has mint too!

    • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

      Thanks so much Charlie! It’s easy taking beautiful pictures of NM because it’s such a beautiful place. 🙂 I’ve made this salad with and without the lemon and it’s just so much better with the lemon. Yes, a great summer salad!

  21. John@Kitchen Riffs August 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    Love the idea of combining watermelon with preserved lemon! Not something I’d ever have thought of. Discovering new flavor combos like that is one of the best reasons to eat out, I think. This is terrific — thanks.

    • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

      It is a great combination – sweet and tart. Thanks!

  22. Raymund August 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Now this is what I call a perfect summer salad! looks amazing

    • mj August 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks so much Raymund!


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