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Burst of Flavors: Compressed Watermelon Salad

This unique dish combines the refreshing flavors of watermelon, tangy house-made pickles, pickled jalapenos, pickled red onions, and peppery arugula, all drizzled with a delightful champagne vinegarette. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with this creative and visually stunning salad!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Learn how to compress watermelon using a vacuum packer for an intensified flavor and texture.
  2. Discover the perfect balance of flavors and textures with homemade pickles, pickled jalapenos, pickled red onions, arugula, and a champagne vinegarette.
  3. Embrace the refreshing and invigorating spirit of summer with this unique salad, perfect for gatherings or as a light yet satisfying meal.

COMPRESSING WATERMELON: Unleashing the Ultimate Flavor Bomb

The secret to our compressed watermelon salad lies in compressing the watermelon. This technique involves using a vacuum packer to intensify the flavors while maintaining the fruit’s juiciness. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Start by choosing a ripe and juicy watermelon. Slice the watermelon into thick, approximately 1-inch rounds.
  2. Remove the rind from each watermelon round, ensuring no traces of green or white remain. This will make the compressing process more effective.
  3. Place each watermelon round into a vacuum-sealed bag or a heavy-duty resealable bag.
  4. Using a vacuum packer, remove the air from the bag, effectively compressing the watermelon. If you don’t have a vacuum packer, you can carefully use a heavy object to weigh down the watermelon slices, removing as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it.
  5. Allow the watermelon to compress in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. The longer you leave it, the more intensified the flavor becomes. Overnight compressing is ideal.

THE ART OF HOUSE-MADE PICKLES: Elevating the Flavor Profile

To elevate the taste of our compressed watermelon salad, we will add homemade pickles. These pickles impart a tangy, satisfying crunch that complements the sweetness of the watermelon. Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients for house-made pickles:

  • Cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Optional herbs and spices (such as dill, garlic, or mustard seeds) for flavor variations


  1. In a glass or stainless steel bowl, combine equal parts white vinegar and water. Add sugar and salt, adjusting to taste. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Add the sliced cucumbers to the brine mixture, ensuring they are fully submerged. Let them soak in the brine for at least 30 minutes – the longer they soak, the stronger the pickle flavor.
  3. If desired, add herbs and spices for extra flavor. Dill, garlic, or mustard seeds work wonderfully but feel free to get creative with your own combination.
  4. Transfer the cucumbers and brine into a clean, airtight container and refrigerate. Allow the pickles to marinate for at least 24 hours to develop their flavors fully.

INCORPORATING FLAVORS: Combining the Elements

Now that we have our compressed watermelon and house-made pickles ready, it’s time to assemble our salad. Here’s how to bring all the components together:

  1. Remove the compressed watermelon rounds from the vacuum-sealed bag and cut them into bite-sized cubes. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
  2. Arrange a bed of fresh, vibrant arugula on a large plate or platter.
  3. Scatter the cubes of compressed watermelon over the bed of arugula.
  4. Add a generous amount of house-made pickles, pickled jalapenos, and pickled red onions on top, distributing them evenly for a burst of tangy flavor.
  5. Drizzle the salad with a champagne vinegarette, ensuring each ingredient is coated with the delectable dressing.
  6. Toss gently to combine, allowing the flavors to mingle but being careful not to squash the watermelon cubes.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy the medley of flavors and textures that create a refreshing and visually appealing salad.

Woman holding round watermelon


Q1. Can I use pre-sliced watermelon for this recipe?

A1. While pre-sliced watermelon can be used, it is crucial to ensure that the slices are thick and devoid of rind for proper compression.

Q2. Can I use other types of melon instead of watermelon?

A2. Although this recipe specifically focuses on watermelon, you can experiment with other melons such as cantaloupe or honeydew. The compression technique will work effectively across various melons, offering unique flavor profiles.

Q3. How long can I store the compressed watermelon?

A3. Once compressed, the watermelon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. However, for the best flavor and texture, it is recommended to use it within one to two days.

Q: What is a compressed watermelon salad?

A: A compressed watermelon salad is a dish that involves using a vacuum sealer to compress the watermelon and infuse it with flavors and ingredients.

Q: How do you compress a watermelon?

A: To compress a watermelon, you need to cut it into the desired shape, place it in a vacuum sealer bag along with other ingredients, and use a vacuum sealer to remove the air and compress the watermelon.

Q: What are some popular ingredients used in compressed watermelon salad?

A: Some popular ingredients used in compressed watermelon salad are feta cheese, avocado, arugula, balsamic vinaigrette, and basil.

Q: Why is feta commonly used in compressed watermelon salad?

A: Feta cheese is often used in compressed watermelon salad because its salty and tangy flavor pairs well with the sweetness of the watermelon.

Q: How long should I let the watermelon sit after compressing it?

A: It is recommended to let the compressed watermelon sit for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend and the watermelon to absorb the ingredients.

Q: Can I use a substitute for a vacuum sealer when compressing the watermelon?

A: While a vacuum sealer is an ideal tool for compressing watermelon, you can try using a zip-top bag and removing the air manually as much as possible.

Q: What is an avocado dressing, and how do I make it?

A: An avocado dressing is a creamy dressing made from ripe avocados, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. To make it, blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

Q: Can other compressed melons be used instead of watermelon?

A: Besides watermelon, you can also try compressing other fruits like melon, tomato, and even citrus fruits like lemon and orange.

Q: Are there any tips to make a perfect compressed watermelon salad?

A: One tip is to lightly freeze the watermelon before compressing it, which will help break down the cell walls and allow the flavors to penetrate better. Another tip is to pair the compressed watermelon salad with other savory ingredients to contrast flavors.

Q: Can I use a sous vide machine to compress the watermelon?

A: While a sous vide machine can’t compress the watermelon, it can infuse flavors before compressing it. Place the watermelon and other ingredients in a vacuum-sealed bag and cook it in a water bath at a controlled temperature.


Summer is the perfect time to explore new flavor combinations and delight your taste buds with refreshing dishes like the compressed watermelon salad. By mastering the art of compressing watermelon, creating homemade pickles, and harmonizing flavors with pickled jalapenos, pickled red onions, arugula, and a champagne vinegarette, you’ll be able to create an enticing and memorable salad experience. Get ready to elevate your summer gatherings and enjoy the unique textures and vibrant flavors this salad offers!

So, gather your ingredients, try out this mouthwatering recipe, and let the refreshing flavors invigorate your summer dining experience. Cheers to the joy of good food and great company!

Compressed watermelon salad with homemade pickles

Dan McCoy