Christopher Kimball's Milk Street: Chili-Lime Melon Salad

Chili Lime Melon Salad.png
Chili Lime Melon Salad.png

If you're looking for a new summer salad recipe, this one's a keeper! Matthew Card, Food Editor of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, stopped by to show us how to make Chili-Lime Melon Salad. For more information about Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, click here.

Chili-Lime Melon Salad

Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 4

Cucumber gave this salad nice color and crunch, but 2 cups cubed honeydew can be substituted. We liked the subtle flavor of light agave in the dressing; a mild honey, such as clover honey, also works. If queso fresco is not available, use feta but omit the ½ teaspoon salt used to season the cheese. The dressing can be made and the melons and cucumber prepped a few hours in advance, but don't toss the salad more than 30 minutes before serving. This recipe is easily doubled.

Don’t use regular chili powder. It’s typically a blend that includes chilies, cumin, oregano and garlic, and won't taste right in this dish.

  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest, plus ¼ cup lime juice (4 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons light agave syrup
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups cubed seedless red watermelon (about 8 ounces), cold
  • 2 cups cubed cantaloupe (about 8 ounces), cold
  • ½ English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint (optional)
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small, dry skillet over medium, toast the chili powder, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

Whisk in the the lime zest and juice, agave and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Add the watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber and mint; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the queso fresco with ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the salad to a serving bowl and top with the queso fresco.