The Washington Post

Compressed Watermelon Salad

Compressed Watermelon Salad 4.000

Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Jun 24, 2015

Not so long ago, restaurant chefs were compressing watermelon at nearly every turn. Ever wonder why? The technique concentrates and intensifies the flavor and color.

They use a vacuum sealer or sous-vide machine, but you can get similar results with the method described here.

You'll need one or two gallon-size zip-top bags.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • For the watermelon and salad
  • One 16-ounce block peeled, seedless watermelon
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups torn frisee
  • 1 cup cubed whole-milk mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons raw, shredded coconut
  • For the dressing
  • 1/4 cup plain rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


For the watermelon and salad: Cut the watermelon into 2-inch squares that are 1/3-inch thick. Sprinkle them lightly with salt on one side. Lay the squares on flat surfaces that can fit inside the zip-top bags. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Place something on top of the bags that will provide gentle, even pressure, such as a plate with a few 15-ounce cans or a few bags of frozen peas on top. Freeze for 2 hours.

When the watermelon is ready, it will look flatter and have a denser texture. Transfer to a serving bowl; add the frisee and toss gently.

For the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and oil in a liquid measuring cup to form an emulsified dressing.

Pour half of the dressing over the watermelon and frisee; toss gently to coat. Scatter the mozzarella cubes and coconut on top.

Serve right away; pass the remaining dressing at the table.

Recipe Source

Adapted from

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using half the dressing): 210

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 14g 22%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 30mg 10%

Sodium: 290mg 12%

Total Carbohydrates: 14g 5%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 11g

Protein: 9g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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