Chef Michael Gulotta’s Spicy Marinated Watermelon Salad

Chef Michael Gulotta of Maypop Restaurant

Chef Michael Gulotta’s Marinated Watermelon with Spicy Pickled Feta, Roasted Eggplant, and Mint

Chef Michael Gulotta of Maypop Restaurant

Serves 6 guests


  • 3 Japanese eggplants, diced large
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1 small seedless watermelon (or one pack of fresh cubed watermelon, seeded)
  • Mint leaves, plus more for garnishing
  • Pinch of turbinado (raw) sugar, to taste
  • Spicy Pickled Feta (see recipe below)
  • Pot d’Huile Olive Oil for drizzling


  1. Toss the diced eggplant with the vegetable oil, salt, and half of the Aleppo chili flake. Lay the eggplant out onto a baking sheet and place it in a 350ºF oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  2. Place the sugar, mint, remaining Aleppo pepper flake, and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor and grind it together until the mint is pulverized. Toss the mint and sugar mixture with the watermelon and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. To serve, gently fold the eggplant in with the marinated watermelon and its juices. Spoon the eggplant watermelon mixture into a deep platter and top with the pickled feta (be sure to get some of the fennel and cumin seed with it), fresh torn mint leaves, and a generous drizzle of Pot d’Huile Olive Oil.

For the Spicy Pickled Feta

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch cumin seed
  • 1 pinch fennel seed
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste, can substitute one fresh serrano, sliced into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, shaved
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  1. In a small non-reactive pot heat the vegetable oil, cumin seed, and fennel seed over medium heat.
  2. Once the spices begin to sizzle and pop in the oil, add in the vinegar, sugar, and Calabrian chili paste.
  3. Bring the pot to a simmer, then cut the heat and stir in the shaved onion and garlic.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool and then pour it over the crumbled feta. Refrigerate overnight before using.