Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Crispy Thai Basil Dressing

Hi! We literally spent fifteen hours at two different pools this past weekend and we're *clearly* living our best life even if our shoulders do literally look like we are in an immense amount of sunburn pain. During our time by the pool we racked up an impressive $100 bar tab (woops) and then ate our combined body weight in Buffalo wings. Did I say we are living our best life? What I meant was: dear god someone send help and a guardian we can't do this alone. 

OK but anyway let's talk less about our problems and more about food. Today's subject: salad.

Kale salad, fruit salad, Caesar salad - shit even chicken salad - it's time for allllll of that cause it's finally our favorite season (bikini) and we're gonna need to take a slight break from our six enchiladas a day diet if we're gonna be spending all that time in the sun. Not to mention that on a temperature scale of 1 - 10 New Orleans is approaching a "my-makeup-is-melting-off-please-no," so we're not about to turn the oven or stove on for anything less than cold hard cash. To be clear, we will turn our oven and stove on for cash. 

This particular salad recipe comes from our friend Lily's new cookbook Kale & Caramel: recipes for body, heart, and table which is pretty much the most summer-ready cookbook to ever be cookbooked because it's full of vibrantly healthy recipes for everything from cheesecake jars to face scrubs. Literally things you can rub on your face, and then like, eat, if you want. You may remember Lily from our little mezze party we had at her house last time we were in Los Angeles. We've been fortunate enough to see this book go from immaculate conception to a full-blown living breathing thing (well not really but you get it) and it has been nothing short of extraordinary. It finally hit shelves a few weeks ago, so seriously check this thing out

Anyhow, we came across this recipe for watermelon and cucumber salad with pepitas and thai basil and other yummy things. It's got that whole sweet and salty situation going on which suites watermelon so damn well. The cucumber acts as an extra refreshing element, while the pepitas provide a slightly fatty crunch to round it all out. The Thai basil dressing is just the right level of acidity to brighten up the dish without being bitter, and it makes this whole thing so divine. We're thinking it would be great for a picnic or poolside party cause it could technically all be done in advance and tossed together on site. Or you could just stand over it barefoot and hurl chunks of it into your mouth because you're a heathen like us. SO GOOD. Check out our video with this delicious little thing and the full recipe below!

Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Crispy Thai Basil Dressing

serves 2 - 4

Crispy Thai Basil Dressing

  • 1/4 cup pepitas, toasted in dry skillet until golden brown
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil, thinly sliced
  • 4 pinches sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

  • 5-inch length of Persian cucumber*
  • 4 cups watermelon cubes, 1/2 to 1 inch

Make the dressing:

  1. Place oil in medium drying pan over medium-high heat. After about 1 1/2 minutes, test the oil with a droplet of water; if it sizzles, it's ready. Drop the basil into the oil in a single layer, and sprinkle with 2 pinches of salt. Swirl the basil for a count of three, then remove the pan from the heat and pour the oil into a heatproof bowl, leaving the crispy basil in the pan.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or the handle or a knife on a cutting board, gently crush the 2 tablespoons of toasted pepitas. In a small bowl, combine 2 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved oil, the lime juice, cayenne, and the remaining 2 pinches of salt. Whisk to combine, then stir in the crushed pepitas and 1 tablespoon of the basil. The dressing will have a consistency similar to pesto. Adjust salt to taste.

Make the salad:  

  1. Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave the cucumber into thin slices, either lengthwise or across. Set aside. 
  2. Arrange the watermelon cubes on a plate in a single layer. Distribute the shaved cucumber over the watermelon, curling some pieces between the watermelon cubes. Spoon the dressing over the watermelon and cucumber, and finish with the remaining whole pepitas and basil. 


  • We couldn't find Persian cucumbers, and instead just used small slices of traditional cucumbers - it was still great!
  • Instead of chunking the watermelon, we used a biscuit cutter to make rounds of watermelon because we thought it'd be cute and omgomgomg it sure was.