Food & Drink

Louisiana Watermelon and Tomato Salad

This sweet and spicy mix celebrates peak-of-summer produce

Photo: courtesy of Pyre Provisions

“Living in Louisiana, you’re always around spicy things,” says Jeff Mattia, the executive chef and owner of Pyre Provisions in Covington, Louisiana. So, when he was crafting a go-to end of summer salad for his restaurant, adding a little creole spice to the already surprising dish full of tart tomatoes, sweet watermelons, and briny watermelon rind pickles was a natural move. 

“People don’t often associate these flavors, but the sugar, spice, and acid work well together,” Mattia says. Once the basic components are in place, the recipe invites variation. “We sometimes garnish it with crushed red pepper flakes or pickled jalapenos. Sometimes we mix pickled green tomatoes in there,” he says. “If you want to be a little healthier, you can substitute mozzarella for the burrata, but it will be a little denser and eliminate some of the creaminess.” 

But like a true Louisianian, Mattia always comes back to the spice: “My best tip,” he says, “is not to skimp on the pepper jelly.”  


  • Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad (Yield: 8 servings)

    • 1 package baby arugula

    • 8 oz. pepper jelly vinaigrette (recipe below)

    • 4 heirloom tomatoes, cut into 2–3-inch pieces

    • ¼ watermelon cut into 1–2-inch pieces

    • Watermelon rind pickles (recipe below)

    • 2 balls of burrata; can substitute fresh mozzarella

  • pickled watermelon rind

    • 1 qt. watermelon rind, peeled, cut into 1–2-inch pieces

    • 4 oz. granulated sugar

    • 4 oz. rice wine vinegar

  • For the pepper jelly vinaigrette

    • 2 tbsp. pepper jelly (Mattia uses Tabasco pepper jelly)

    • 2 oz. rice vinegar

    • 4 oz. of vegetable oil


  1. To make the pickled watermelon rind, place diced watermelon rind in a large bowl. In a saucepan, add sugar, vinegar, and 4 oz. water and bring to a boil. Pour over the diced watermelon rind, cover, and cool in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  

  2. To make the vinaigrette, mix the pepper jelly and rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the oil. 

  3. Toss the greens in the vinaigrette to taste and divide among the plates. Scatter tomato, watermelon, and rind pickles on the greens. Cut each burrata ball into four pieces and place in the center of each salad. Spoon more vinaigrette on top to finish.