Watermelon Jicama Salad

I finally fessed up to subscribing to People Magazine. I feel like it keeps me up-to-date on the who’s who and what’s happening. It’s probably not working because I’ve never been accused by my kids of being hip. And I still don’t know half of the youngsters in the magazines… and such odd names.

But occasionally, there are recipes in the back pages of People, and some times I make them, like this fabulous salad. It’s watermelon, jicama, Oaxaca cheese, arugula, and candied sunflower seeds, topped with a zingy lime dressing.

The chef is Matthew Trebek, who owns Oso restaurant in Harlem, New York. It serves Southwestern cuisine, and this salad is on the menu. The good thing is that it appears that Oso survived the pandemic.

Chef Trebek is also the son of Alex Trebek, who is a well known game show host in the U.S.

What I loved about this recipe are the two main ingredients – watermelon and jicama. When I went to California to attend college one of my roommates turned me on to jicama. She ate jicama with lime juice and salt, and that’s how I eat jicama to this day.

And who doesn’t like watermelon?! Well, I actually have a friend who doesn’t, so I won’t share with him. However, because I still can’t drive because of my hand surgery, I’ve been relying on teenage grocery shoppers for my weekly deliveries. And I ended up with a yellow watermelon!

It tastes the same as the red, of course, but I’m weird about food colors. I prefer red watermelon and red tomatoes.

But I persevered, and wow this salad is incredible. I hope you make it. Seriously.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

1/2 medium shallot
1/2 serrano chile
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons white sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces arugula
1/2 small seedless watermelon (20 ounces) cut into matchsticks
1/4 medium jicama (9 ounces) cut into matchsticks
6 ounces Oaxaca, cut into thin strips

Combine shallot, chile, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt in a blender jar. With blender running, add oil in a steady stream until blended, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Place sunflower seeds and remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has caramelized and amber in color, about 9 minutes.

Pour onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break apart into clusters.

Arrange greens, watermelon and jicama on a large platter. Scatter with cheese strips.

Top with candied seeds and add about 1/2 cup dressing.

Then dig in!

It’s really flavorful with the arugula mixed in with the other ingredients, and the dressing is fabulous.

I’m making it again soon, but omitting the candied sunflower seeds. I didn’t feel they were an integral part of the salad, but if you want crunch, include them.

By Published On: September 7th, 202057 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

57 Comments

  1. popsiclesociety September 7, 2020 at 7:14 AM - Reply

    Is the first time I hear about jicama, I did a little bit of research and seems like turnip…it must be good 😋 I simply love yellow watermelon…I have it in my fridge almost always 😋 It is so refreshing and juicy 😋
    Lovely and refreshing salad!

    • chef mimi September 7, 2020 at 7:17 AM - Reply

      Jicama is interesting. White like a turnip, but without the strong taste and smell. I don’t know what I can compare it to, but it makes for a good crunch!

  2. popsiclesociety September 7, 2020 at 7:15 AM - Reply

    Oh and I’ve forgot…I’ve recently started to buy again the magazines just for the recipes 🤪

    • chef mimi September 7, 2020 at 7:17 AM - Reply

      They were my first resource for recipes when I was young!

  3. sherry September 7, 2020 at 7:49 AM - Reply

    i agree. watermelon should be pink! i love it in salads. great with fetta and olives etc…

    • chef mimi September 7, 2020 at 7:58 AM - Reply

      I know! Red watermelons only! Tomatoes and watermelons are so good together also, but this combination has become my favorite!

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen September 7, 2020 at 8:39 AM - Reply

    What a beautiful salad! I absolutely love jicama, although sometimes have trouble finding it here. So crunchy and delicious!

    • chef mimi September 7, 2020 at 9:19 AM - Reply

      It is so crunchy, isn’t it?!! I usually just eat it as is, but it’s especially good in this salad!

  5. Gerlinde September 7, 2020 at 9:37 AM - Reply

    I love jicama and watermelons , it looks like a great salad , I have to try it.

    • chef mimi September 7, 2020 at 9:38 AM - Reply

      It’s perfection on a plate. And honestly, the candied sunflower seeds are not necessary. There’s enough sweetness and crunch already.

  6. sippitysup September 7, 2020 at 2:20 PM - Reply

    Jicama and lime juice is very LA street food. I get it at the fruit stall outside my doctor’s office once in a while. Of course the younger Mr. Trebek was raised here so his love for the combination is bred into him. GREG

    • chef mimi September 7, 2020 at 2:39 PM - Reply

      Of course! That makes sense! It’s a great salad, Greg.

  7. jenniferguerrero1 September 7, 2020 at 6:40 PM - Reply

    This sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing! Funny, the second I read the name, I wondered. :D

    • chef mimi September 9, 2020 at 8:48 AM - Reply

      Yeah, didn’t know he had a son who was a chef! It’s a really fabulous salad!

  8. fatsochef September 8, 2020 at 2:09 AM - Reply

    I love both watermelon and Jicama! Not to mention cheese !! This is brilliant!

    • chef mimi September 8, 2020 at 8:12 AM - Reply

      It truly is!

  9. Dennis Yannakos September 9, 2020 at 12:36 AM - Reply

    It’s so crunchy, sweet, fresh! This is my new craving when eating BBQ! Thanks for sharing!

    • chef mimi September 9, 2020 at 6:57 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome. Crunchy indeed!

  10. Frank Fariello September 9, 2020 at 7:01 AM - Reply

    Looks like a refreshing salad, Mimi! A nice way to ease into the fall.

    I don’t subscribe to People but I do confess I’ve leafed through it while sitting around in doctor’s offices… a guilty pleasure. ;-)

    • chef mimi September 9, 2020 at 7:10 AM - Reply

      I know, it really is a guilty pleasure. Some great stories in it, as well, but I guess that like a guy saying that he only gets Playboy for the articles 😬

  11. kitchenriffs September 9, 2020 at 9:15 AM - Reply

    I am SO out of touch with current celebrities that I probably should subscribe to _People_. But I know I’d never get around to reading it. And why should I, when it sounds like the recipes are the best part, and I have you to curate them! :-) This does look really good — thanks.

    • chef mimi September 9, 2020 at 9:22 AM - Reply

      HAHAHAHAHAHA! The recipes have definitely become the best part! Sometimes the recipes are just not unique, from people who don’t even cook, but sometimes they’re pretty amazing. David Chang’s bacon fried rice was from People, also! This salad is incredible.

  12. Brooks September 9, 2020 at 10:01 AM - Reply

    Mimi, similar to John, I’m glad you found the recipe and shared it here. Loving the fresh, accessible ingredients and the candied sunflower seeds too. Cheers!

    • chef mimi September 9, 2020 at 11:41 AM - Reply

      You’re welcome! It’s truly a unique and wonderful salad. I’m making it today for a friend, and although they were good, I am not including the candied seeds.

  13. givememeatloaf September 9, 2020 at 10:53 AM - Reply

    Never would have thought of this recipe and I love ALL the ingredients, how fabulous!

    • chef mimi September 9, 2020 at 11:42 AM - Reply

      I know! Me, neither! I’ve made a lot of watermelon salads, too, but this one takes the cake, in my book!

  14. cookingwithauntjuju.com September 9, 2020 at 1:40 PM - Reply

    Yes, yes, yes! What a delightful and flavorful salad. I’m with you – red watermelon for me :)

    • chef mimi September 10, 2020 at 6:44 AM - Reply

      It is so good I made it again yesterday. Outstanding.

  15. Linda September 10, 2020 at 5:25 AM - Reply

    Looks great! As a Brit I’ve never eaten jicama but it sounds good – what does it taste like, Mimi? Or is it all about the crunch?

    • chef mimi September 10, 2020 at 6:38 AM - Reply

      There’s really no smell or taste to speak of – it’s definitely about the crunch! There’s really no substitute, either.

  16. Jeff the Chef September 10, 2020 at 6:40 AM - Reply

    I had no idea there was yellow watermelon! I already know that I’d prefer the red, as you do! That aside, this salad looks delicious.I haven’t had jicama in a long time, but I do love it’s extra cruncy texture, and if there’s one thing I love in a salad, it’s crunch. What really catches my eye, though, are the candied sunflower seeds! Never heard of them, but I already know I’ll love them! And lime dressing – why have I never had that before?

    • chef mimi September 10, 2020 at 6:43 AM - Reply

      Well it sounds like you’d love this salad and the dressing! The watermelon, jicama, cheese and arugula with the dressing – outstanding. I made the salad again yesterday and omitted the candied sunflower seeds. I just didn’t see them as an integral part, and there was already sweetness and texture. But a great salad.

  17. Eva Taylor September 10, 2020 at 1:08 PM - Reply

    I love jicama and watermelon, although I must admit that I’ve never seen gold watermelon. The combo seems very fresh and perfect for a light summer meal.

    • chef mimi September 14, 2020 at 12:41 PM - Reply

      I knew this salad would be good, but I had no idea it would be this spectacular!

  18. Molly Pisula September 11, 2020 at 11:27 AM - Reply

    Mmm, this sounds so good! I would not have thought to put jicama and watermelon together, but this salad looks fantastic. I’m definitely not skimping on the candied sunflower seeds either. :)

    • chef mimi September 11, 2020 at 11:29 AM - Reply

      I know! Which is silly since jicama really has no flavor. It definitely works.

  19. cookingontheweekends September 11, 2020 at 1:11 PM - Reply

    Ha! Mimi, I laughed out loud about your people mag/hip comment. I yearn for the day my kids will say I’m hip. ;-)
    I love this combination of flavors in this salad, and so fun you chose yellow watermelon to make it. Hope you have a great weekend! :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi September 11, 2020 at 1:59 PM - Reply

      Well I hope it works for you! It didn’t work for me. Oh well. At least I get some great recipes out of the magazine!

  20. Laura September 11, 2020 at 4:06 PM - Reply

    Jicama and watermelon sound like great salad partners, Mimi! I love jicama but hadn’t even thought of it until last week when I saw jicama tortillas at Trader Joe’s. (They’re great if you’re a lie-carb person – I’m not) anyway,this sounds really tasty!

    • chef mimi September 11, 2020 at 4:09 PM - Reply

      Jicama tortillas??? Weird. Well, this salad is really incredible. Love all of the flavors and textures. Quite unique!

  21. Shannon September 12, 2020 at 4:30 AM - Reply

    Ohhh my GOODNESS what a unique and lovely salad! Thank you so much for sharing this Mimi, I can’t wait to give it a try. Love the idea of candied sunflower seeds, never would have thought to do that. I can see how all these flavors would go together beautifully. And the Trebek connection is so cool, didn’t know Alex had such a talented son in the culinary world! Also, I am so intrigued by that yellow watermelon!

    • chef mimi September 12, 2020 at 10:43 AM - Reply

      This salad is truly outstanding. I’m so glad I tried it. I hope you get to also! Or are you vegan?

  22. David Scott Allen September 12, 2020 at 10:40 AM - Reply

    I’ve always wondered what his restaurant is like and am glad he seems to have survived the pandemic. Beautiful salad — crispy and crunchy and sweet and tart! Perfect.

    • chef mimi September 12, 2020 at 10:43 AM - Reply

      It’s actually better than perfect! I hope you can try it.

  23. Liz September 13, 2020 at 6:02 AM - Reply

    Oh, boy, does this salad sound terrific! I love the candied sesame seeds—so much yummy flavor and texture in every bite.

    • chef mimi September 13, 2020 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      The salad is truly amazing. I’d never had Oaxacan cheese before, and although it is similar to Monterey Jack, it’s really really good, and is perfect in this salad!

  24. Raymund September 13, 2020 at 3:15 PM - Reply

    This is one nice salad, we use jicama a lot in our salads too but first time I had seen it with watermelons as we usually pair it with mangoes.

    • chef mimi September 14, 2020 at 6:54 AM - Reply

      Oh, well sounds sounds wonderful, too! I’m trying that next!!!

  25. Kelly, RD September 14, 2020 at 11:35 AM - Reply

    I’m going to make this for my Mexican-themed book club this week!

    • chef mimi September 14, 2020 at 12:41 PM - Reply

      Oh, perfect! Make the dressing, too. It’s just an amazing combination!

      • Kelly, RD September 14, 2020 at 12:46 PM

        I will! Cantina Lerado use to make a jicama and carrot salad that I loved so much! I had thought I would try to re-create it for book club, but now I don’t have to! I’m excited about using your recipe!

      • chef mimi September 14, 2020 at 3:13 PM

        You don’t even have to make the candied sunflower seeds. They were good, but the salad is perfect without them already!

      • Kelly, RD September 14, 2020 at 3:22 PM

        I will probably leave those out just for the Mexican themed version, but I like the idea for another time. I was thinking of using fresh cilantro too.

      • chef mimi September 14, 2020 at 3:24 PM

        Honestly, i wouldn’t. I’m a huge cilantro lover, but all of these flavors are delicate – watermelon, jicama, the cheese – the dressing has a little zing, but not much. It you wanted I’d recommend putting a little sprig or two in the dressing before blending, but that’s it.

  26. Linger September 21, 2020 at 11:46 AM - Reply

    Hi Mimi. I don’t think I have ever seen a yellow watermelon. Interesting. I’m partial to red as well, but I would definitely try it. I do love the crunch of jicama and the candied sunflower seeds sound fabulous. I could almost drink that dressing.Thanks so much for sharing.

    • chef mimi September 21, 2020 at 11:51 AM - Reply

      I could drink the dressing, too, and I almost have! You must be like me and love salads as much as their dressings/vinaigrettes. Especially when paired perfectly!

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