This easy beet watermelon salad is so refreshing, flavorful and healthy. Perfect light lunch on a hot summer day or side dish for burgers. 100% vegan and naturally gluten-free.
Here is another fresh and healthy salad to try: beet watermelon salad with basil.
I am such a fan of all melon salads. I shared a vegan honeydew ricotta salad on my Youtube channel that I still make regularly and my most loved vegan watermelon, cucumber and feta salad is still a favorite in the summertime.
There is something special happening when pairing juicy sweet melon with savory ingredients and we just cannot get enough of it.
So, to diversify my melon salad repertoire, this time I paired beet + watermelon + basil and wow, the result was absolutely amazing. The beets provide that earthy savory bite while the juicy watermelon brings a sweet and fresh component to balance out the flavors perfectly.
The juice from the melon also helps flavor the light balsamic dressing in such a healthy way! Beet and watermelon might seem like an unusual combo, but it actually really works, you don't need much more to make this salad amazing!
Since it is summer and fresh herbs are all around us, I included some fresh basil, which gave this light salad even more freshness. I also added some pistachios for a good crunch and extra healthy plant-based protein and fats, but you can use any nut you prefer. So delicious!
This salad is SO versatile and there is a lot more you can add to it to make it your own. Serve it as a side dish or make it a full meal with a side of bread, especially on hot summer days when light meals are preferred.
This recipe makes for a great meal-prep meal for easy lunches or to bring to BBQ's, picnics or potlucks: with that yummy bright red color and fresh summery ingredients, everyone will have eyes on your stunning dish!
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
Why you will love this recipe
- Perfect recipe for the sweet and savory combo lover
- This salad is sweet, a little zesty and earthy all at the same time
- Light, healthy and made oil-free
- Makes for a nutritious side dish or full meal as a light lunch
- Easy and simple recipe
- Packed with vitamins and antioxidants
- Buy pre-cooked beet in a vacuum-sealed packaging for a super quick recipe
- Perfect plant-based meal-prep idea
- Fits many diets: it is vegan & vegetarian, dairy-free and naturally gluten-free.
Is this salad healthy?
This simple fruit and vegetable salad is chock-full with nutrients while being quite low-calorie!
Beets are well-known for their high-content in nitrates, which helps blood flows well in your vessels, but also are rich in vitamins (especially vitamin C), fiber, iron and folate.
They also contain a component called Betanin, which is responsible for their appetizing bright red color, but also acts as a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent a large array of diseases.
As for watermelon, it is so high in water that eating watermelon regularly can dramatically help you stay well hydrated. Watermelon also is packed with fiber, vitamin C and A and antioxidants (lycopene).
As a side note, the salad dressing also is made healthier by not using any processed fats, which you won't need at all in this simple salad dressing.
Overall, this salad is rich in fiber, to help stay full longer, but also provides tons of nutrients to give you great energy, help you stay hydrated and keep inflammation in your body lower.
Ingredients you will need
- Watermelon: look for a ripe and heavy watermelon and use a seedless fruit, if possible. A watermelon that's super sweet will give you a better tasting salad! You can check out this guide on how to pick the best watermelon from Real Simple to help you choose your watermelon.
- Beets: I prefer red beets to golden beets for this salad as they give it such an amazing color, but both types will work.
- Fresh basil: I think fresh herbs are essential in this salad and basil is my preferred choice for its amazing aromatic, sweet and savory natural combination of flavors.
- Pistachios: so great in this salad! If using salted pistachios, then you might not need to add extra salt to the salad.
- White balsamic vinegar: my most recent go-to acid I use for salad dressings! It is perfectly tangy, but also a little sweet and less strong than other vinegars. You can swap for rice vinegar if you don't have it or even white wine vinegar in a pinch.
- Maple syrup: to balance out the acidity, use agave nectar if you prefer.
- Lemon juice: for more freshness and a nice zesty touch to the dressing.
- Dijon mustard: you won't need a lot, but dijon goes so great with beets, helps the dressing emulsify slightly and simply ties the salad ingredients all together perfectly.
How to make a beet watermelon salad
The biggest step is to cook the beets, which can take up to an hour depending on their size. Try to plan ahead and even cook the beets the day before so this salad comes together in minutes!
Cook the beets (or get already cooked at the store)
Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
Wrap the beets in foil and then place them on a baking sheet. Bake the beets for 50-60 minutes or until tender (test with a knife). Once done, unwrap the beets and place the beets under running cold water or submerge them in cold water. Then, rub on them, the peels should come right off easily!
Alternatively, you could also boil peeled beets or steam them until tender. I prefer to bake them as it concentrates their flavor.
Once cooked and peeled, then cube the beets.
Prep the watermelon
Peel/remove the rind and cube the watermelon. Also, remove the larger seeds, if necessary. You can check out my quick video in my vegan watermelon feta salad post to see how I do this.
Make the dressing
While the beets are cooking, then whisk together the white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon and a pinch of salt in a small bowl until uniform. Set aside.
Assemble and serve
In a large serving bowl, add the cubed beets and watermelon, then top with pistachios and fresh basil and pour the dressing over. Stir to combine and taste to adjust salt and lemon juice to preference. Add some ground black pepper if you want.
Serve over a bed of greens and with healthy sprouts. Enjoy!
- The salad's flavors are focused on the fresh produce, so for best result, look for ultra fresh and perfectly ripe fruit and vegetables!
- If you don't have enough time to cook the beets or want to avoid turning on your oven on a hot day, then most grocery stores sell already cooked beets in the fridge section, such as these ready-to-eat beets from the brand Love Beets. They are so handy!
- Also, if you love to meal-prep or batch cook in the weekend, then you can cook the beets ahead of time, peel them and keep them well-covered in the fridge until ready-to-use.
- Try to cube both the beets and watermelon about the same size and also on the small side, to have a bit of both in each bite.
- DON'T use pickled beets!
What goes well with this watermelon salad
My favorite way to serve this salad is over some extra leafy greens. I used arugula this time for an added peppery taste and it was great. It would also go well over baby spinach or watercress and top with balsamic pickled onions for more texture and color.
Other ways to serve this refreshing salad are:
- With grains: pair with quinoa, brown rice, couscous or barley to add extra fiber, plant protein and make this recipe more substantial. This can be a great idea if enjoying this salad as a full meal.
- As a salsa: chop the produce in tiny cubes and serve this recipe like a salsa with tortilla chips!
- More creaminess: if you like salads with creamy cheese, then add some cubed vegan feta cheese or a few dollops of vegan ricotta or vegan mascarpone cheese when serving.
- Extra protein: you can make you salad higher in plant-based protein by including one of the vegan cheeses listed above or also, add more nuts or seeds (such as cashews, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds), roasted tempeh, edamame or baked tofu.
This recipe also makes for a stunning side salad to pair with so many main dishes. It goes especially well if grilling some veggie burgers or vegetables on the BBQ during summer. Here are a few more pairing ideas:
- Chickpea and oat burgers
- Crispy oyster mushrooms
- Crusted tofu tortilla wraps
- Roasted vegetable and pesto sandwiches
- Jackfruit burgers
- Chickpea avocado sandwiches
This beet watermelon salad is so versatile and you can tweak it as you wish to make it your own. Here are more ingredients to try in this salad:
- Red onion or chives for extra flavor.
- Radishes, especially in the summer (slice them thinly)
- Tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes for their sweet flavor
- Mint instead of basil
- Oranges or apples: beets go so well with fruits!
- Cucumber for more crunch and freshness
As a side note, if you don't have white balsamic, then you can also make it with regular dark balsamic vinegar or omit and simply use more lemon juice to taste.
This salad is best when enjoyed fresh, since the juice from the fruit will ooze out as it rests and mix in the dressing. That being said, you can keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If you want to meal-prep this salad for easy lunches to-go, then you can also keep the dressing apart, but also add the nuts just before serving so they stay crunchy.
I wouldn’t recommend it. This salad is all about freshness and great flavor, which is not something you will get from using canned beets. If you want to avoid cooking beets yourself, then you are better using pre-cooked beets in a sealed packaging in the fridge section at your grocery store.
Yes! All the ingredients used are naturally GF.
More recipes like this
- Cilantro lime pasta salad
- Zesty quinoa salad
- Cucumber beet salad
- Creamy Tuscan white bean salad
- Edamame crunch salad
- Vegan pesto couscous salad
- Vegan Waldorf salad
- Southwestern grain salad
- Red lentil pasta salad
- Kale crunch salad
I hope you like this beet watermelon salad recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Beet Watermelon Salad
- 3 cups watermelon - diced
- 3 cups beets
- ½ cup fresh basil - roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup pistachio
- sprouts - optional, to serve
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup - or to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- salt and ground black pepper - to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º and then, wrap the beets in foil. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until tender. Then, unwrap, place them under running cold water (or in a bowl filled with cold water) and rub on them to remove the peels, it should come right off easily. Alternatively, you can boil or steam the beets or also, for a speedy convenient recipe, then look for ready-to-eat cooked beets at your grocery store. Then, cube the beets in small pieces.
- While the beets are cooking, then whisk the white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Remove the peel/rind on the watermelon and slice in cubes of about the same size as the beets
- In a large serving bowl, add the beets, watermelon, pistachios and basil and then pour the dressing over. Stir to combine and serve. Enjoy!