Mexican Watermelon Cucumber Salad

August 21, 2017

This watermelon cucumber salad has incredible flavor, and is a fantastic vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly lunch or dinner in the hot weather.

This Mexican watermelon cucumber salad is vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. It is bursting with flavor, and makes a show-stopping lunch or dinner for summer.

It is absolutely sweltering here in L.A, and this Mexican watermelon cucumber salad with smoky lime pepitas from the new Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, Ready or Not! is like a welcome splash of cool water. Sweet, tangy, spicy, refreshing, super hydrating, and loaded with vitamins and minerals, this spectacular salad has become a summer staple in our house. We’ve also been happily munching on the smoky lime pepitas in between rounds. Yum!

Michelle Tam and Henry Fong have created one of the most famous blogs in the world, and established themselves as the go-to resource for all things paleo. The Nom Nom Paleo brand has captured the imagination of millions of happy cooks around the world transforming them into “Nomsters”, with award-winning recipes, the NY Times bestselling Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, award-winning Nom Nom Paleo app, Nom Nom Paleo podcast, as well as merchandise like calendars and action figures, and a partnership with Wholefoods.

Michelle, Henry, and their two sons have been delighting readers all over the U.S on their national tour, and as you can see from their instagram feed, thousands of Nomsters have been flooding bookstores around the nation to hug this paleo power pack!

The allure of this fabulous family is not just the righteous recipes and the brilliant branding, it’s their down-to-earth spirit and sense of fun. They are not extreme, they don’t take themselves seriously, and they just authentically share their journey with food. Michelle is a dear friend, and what you see is what you get….and it’s always honest and real.

The Ready or Not! cookbook is another delightful expression of the contagious joy that emanates from everything this family dishes up. I smiled from ear to ear and laughed out loud as I cooked my way through this cookbook that reads more like a comic book with super heroes, jokes, tips, and step-by-step pictorial instructions than your typical one dimensional offering. You feel like you’re a welcome visitor in their home, and with every dish they’re giving you a high five.

No matter what your dietary stripes, Ready or Not! will deliver flavor fever with 150 make ahead meals! For meat eaters, there’s a lot on offer. But, there are also heaps of plant-based dishes. Some of my faves include: fruit and avocado salsa, sun-dried tomato pesto, duxelles, grain-free tortillas, cumin-cilantro cauliflower rice, honeydew lime gazpacho, fried green plantains, whole roasted cauliflower with nutty dijon vinaigrette, garam masala vegetable soup (I used veggie broth), grilled balsamic bok choy with golden raisins, persian cauliflower rice, creamy onion dressing, wimpchi (LOL), sesame ginger sauce, piña colada tapioca pudding, and cherry chocolate chip ice cream.

Run and your copy of Ready or Not! and become a Nomster!


Mexican Watermelon Cucumber Salad

This watermelon cucumber salad from Nom Nom Paleo is vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. It is bursting with flavor, and makes a show-stopping lunch or dinner for summer.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6
Author Tess Masters


smoky lime pepitas:


  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
  • 1 small (5lb) seedless watermelon, rind removed and cubed
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon  finely grated lime zest, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh mint leaves


  1. To make the smoky lime pepitas, preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C) with the rack placed in the middle position, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone liner. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the pepitas, olive oil, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Add the lime juice and mix well.
  3. Spread the seasoned pepitas in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Toast the seeds for 12 to 15 minutes in the oven, stirring at the halfway point, until fragrant and crunchy. Allow to cool.
  5. To assemble the salad, soak the sliced onion in a bowl of iced water for about 10 minutes to mellow the flavor, drain, and discard soaking liquid. 
  6. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumber, drained onions, olive oil, chile powder, salt, cayenne pepper, lime zest, and lime juice, and toss to coat evenly. Tweak flavors to taste. 
  7. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and 1/4 cup toasted pepitas. Serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

Recipe from Ready or Not!: 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, copyright © 2017. Published by Andrews McMeel.
Photo by Trent Lanz; styling by Alicia Buszczak