Warm weather, long days, and blooming flowers all mark the start of spring. Picnic season is upon us, which means it's time to bring out the seasonal fruits, including berries, peaches, apricots, mangos, and pineapples just to name a few. One of my personal favorite summertime fruits is watermelon; it's sweet, hydrating, and refreshing all at the same time. Conveniently enough, the fruit is at its peak season from May until September.

Although it is great on its own, there are so many things you can do to add a little more depth to this lovely fruit. If you're looking for a new side or even a dish to serve at the next BBQ, you can never go wrong with one of my favorites—a watermelon salad.

What is Watermelon Salad?

Molly Gottesman

A watermelon salad traditionally consists of watermelon cubes, feta, mint, and maybe a little bit of salt and pepper for taste. It is super easy and quick to make, and it tastes delicious. Sometimes, however, it is fun to mix things up and add a little more flavor and depth to this classic dish. Here are my personal picks of what to add to make your watermelon salad a bit more fun.

1. Cherry Tomatoes

pasture, cherry tomato, cherry, tomato, vegetable
Caroline Ingalls

A staple salad ingredient, cherry tomatoes are a great way to add a little bit of citrus and acidity to your watermelon salad and help balance out the sweetness. You can stick with the classic red tomatoes, or add a pop of color with yellow and green ones.

#SpoonTip: Tomatoes have the added bonus of helping to protect you from sunburn, which is perfect if you are eating this salad at the beach.

2. Balsamic 

coffee, beer, tea
Julia Murphy

A great way to tie the ingredients together, balsamic adds a level of sophistication to any simple salad. I prefer to use balsamic glaze, but balsamic vinaigrette, vinegar, and other salad dressings work just as well.  If you don't have any store-bought balsamic reduction, it's super easy to make your own.

3. Olives

Fruit, Fresh, farmer's market, olive, olives
Caroline Ingalls

Either you love them or you hate them, but if you fall into the "love" category, then adding olives to your watermelon salad is a great way to add some saltiness and flare. My favorite olives are kalamata olives, a purple variety grown in Greece that are smooth and plump. There are so many types of olives, and nearly all of them would taste great in this salad, so choosing one just comes down to personal preference. 

4. Peanuts

cereal, nut
Hannah Cather

Adding peanuts to your watermelon salad might seem odd, but you can't go wrong when combining sweet with salty. The peanuts will give the salad more dimension, adding crunch to an otherwise soft salad. If you're using salted peanuts, make sure not to add any additional salt to the salad because it will overpower the other essential flavors.

5. Cucumber

cucumber, vegetable
Alex Frank

A staple in greek salads, the mild flavor of cucumber can help balance out the more distinctive flavors of watermelon, mint, and feta. In addition, cucumbers have numerous health benefits, and are crunchier than watermelon, adding a different texture to your salad. Like watermelon, cucumbers are high in water content, making this a refreshing addition to your day spent in the sun.

6. Red Pepper Flakes

If you want to add a little bit of a kick to your watermelon salad, try sprinkling some red pepper flakes on after you're done making it. This addition will add a little bit of spice without overpowering the other ingredients. The spice will help balance out the sweetness of the watermelon and make the salad a little more exciting.

#SpoonTip: If you're really feeling bold, you can add chopped up raw Jalapeño peppers to your salad.

7. Arugula

salad, vegetable, lettuce, herb, arugula
Ellen Gibbs

Adding arugula to a watermelon salad will make it a little more like a traditional bowl of greens, while still being colorful and tasteful. The unique flavor of the leaf will help tie all the ingredients together. Also, arugula is another seasonal crop, making it the perfect add-on to this summertime salad.

Watermelon salads are the perfect food to welcome spring and summer with, and there are so many ways to add your own, personal twist to them. These seven additions are my personal favorites, but there are so many other great ingredients that you can add to spice your salad up. So, next time you have a picnic, want a beach bite, or feel like snacking on a light appetizer, just grab a watermelon, add a few ingredients, and enjoy!