Watermelon Radish & Citrus Salad

Continuing with my market-inspired recipes... Today, I have a salad with fresh mint, citrus fruits, and watermelon radishes. I had seen pictures of these pink and green hued roots before, but I'd never actually cooked with them myself. When I saw a sign at Alemany Farmers' Market for watermelon radishes, my eyes lit up and I just knew that I had to get my hands on some. There was even a small tupperware filled with sampler-sized slices. So, of course, I just knew that I had to get my hands on some. These radishes were sweet, refreshing, and crisp, but they also had a peppery finish. I decided to make a salad with the watermelon radishes and some blood oranges that I also bought at the market. It was a fun, exciting experiment that had beautiful, tasty results!

The first time that I made this salad, I was still at my Auntie Mel's house after our Farmers' Market Lightning Round in San Francisco. I made it again today, for lunch. So, if you notice that I'm switching between two completely different kitchens throughout this post, it's only because I combined my photos from both days! :)

To start, the fruits and vegetables for this salad...The theme of this salad is illusions. You can look at these fruits and vegetables and think you know what you're getting...then you cut them open to see something completely different. I had watermelon radishes from Tomatero Farms, blood oranges from one of the Asian vendors, and ruby grapefruit and chioggia beets from Whole Foods.

The blood oranges get their name from the deep crimson color of the pulp. They're a beautiful addition to salads, desserts, and even cocktails. As for their flavor, blood oranges are a bit more complex than the average navels. They have sweetness, some tartness, and a hint of bitterness. Whenever these oranges are in season, I try to use them as much as possible.

To prepare them for this salad, I just cut away the rind and pith with a sharp paring knife.

This allowed me to see each and every segment in the orange. I did this for the ruby grapefruit, as well.

Using a sharp paring knife, I cut out each segment. And just like that, bursts of citrus for the salad without any rind or pith included!

After cutting out all of the segments, I saved the leftover cores and squeezed them for juice. (If you find that you cut off too much pulp while you were peeling the fruit, just squeeze the juice from those rind pieces as well! Nothing will go to waste!)

Next, the watermelon radishes! Just like the blood oranges, the color on the outside of the watermelon radish is very different from what's actually inside. Every radish is unique, with some being completely fuschia and others having a white/green edge (just like a watermelon).

One of the radishes that I sliced even reminded me of tie-dye! To get the stunning, kaleidoscope-like effect, trim the top and bottom of the radish, and then cut it in half lengthwise. Lay the radish-half on the board, cut-side down. Then, slice the radish thinly into half moon shapes. So. Gorgeous.

To make the dressing, strain the juice saved after segmenting the citrus.

In a small jar or mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup of juice, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup chopped mint, 1 tablespoon of honey mustard, sea salt, and black pepper.

The first time that I made this salad, I stopped here, tossed the radishes, citrus, and dressing together, and served the salad just like that. Everything went together wonderfully, and everyone loved the salad's bright and refreshing flavors.

The second time around, I added thin slices of raw chioggia beets. These beets are also known as "candy cane beets" because of their red and white rings. Since I had them on hand, and its plain skin but vastly different flesh fit the salad's "illusions" theme so well, I decided to add them.

The raw beets definitely have a more assertive flavor than the radishes, but the trick is to make sure you slice the beets very thinly, almost paper-thin shavings.

While I liked the flavor of the chioggia beet, I definitely liked the refreshing simplicity of just radish and citrus a lot more. I would recommend adding the chioggia beet only if you really like beets in your salads.

If you'd like to fix this salad up for a party, spooning it into individual endive leaves makes for a great presentation. I had bought some Belgian endive from Whole Foods, and their miniature size make the leaves ideal for serving hors d'oeuvre-sized salads.

This salad is a feast for your eyes as much as it is a feast for your stomach! The fascinating colors and the bold flavors make it such a fun dish to create and eat.  Serve it with grilled fish or chicken for a light, delicious meal!

Watermelon Radish & Citrus Salad (adapted from Lincoln Barbour)

Print Recipe

2 Watermelon Radishes
2 Blood Oranges
1 Grapefruit
1/3 cup Citrus Juice (blood orange & grapefruit)
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Chopped Fresh Mint
1 tbsp Honey Mustard

1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

  1. Peel watermelon radishes and cut in half. Slice thinly. Place the radishes into a serving bowl.
  2. Using a knife, cut away the peel of the blood oranges and grapefruit. Cut segments out from citrus fruits, and add to the bowl of radishes. Save the leftover cores, and squeeze out the juice. Reserve for the salad dressing.
  3. To make the dressing, combine the reserved citrus juice, extra virgin olive oil, chopped mint, honey mustard, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl or a jar. Whisk everything together, or cover the jar with its lid and shake. 
  4. Pour half of the dressing into the bowl of sliced radishes and citrus. Lightly toss everything together.
  5. Serve immediately, alongside extra dressing. Enjoy!