Holidays at Home: Watermelon, Rocket and Five Seed Salad

Since we're spending our holidays at home this year, I invited private chef Donny Tan of FoodDNA to stop by and show us how to make a very simple, yet impressive salad to wow your guests in your holiday entertaining. Called Shades of Christmas Salad, it features the red of wine-steeped watermelon (non-alcoholic substitutes included in the recipe) and cranberries, green of fresh rocket, white of whole burrata and quinoa puffs and the woody colours of nuts and seeds such as walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

It's so easy to make, and the components can be made ahead so when your guests arrive all you have to do is chop and toss everything together. You can also use pantry nuts and seeds that you have on hand. It's gluten-free, vegetarian friendly and low in sodium, and can be made vegan, keto or paleo but subbing out the syrups and cheese.

Chef Donny Tan and Toni Chan

We've had Chef Donny over to cook for us many times and have always appreciated his creative menus and use of the highest quality, freshest ingredients. He created this salad just for us, so watch the video below as he goes through making the salad step by step and gives tips on:

  1. What you can prep ahead so you're not stuck in the kitchen when your guests arrive
  2. Cutting the ingredients to size
  3. How to plate a salad beautifully and scale for larger groups

The Canadian in me is loving the generous use of maple syrup in this salad - but remember, you MUST use the real deal - fake maple syrups just don't cut it, trust me! Check out the video and recipe below.



Shades of Christmas: Wine-Steeped Watermelon, Rocket and Five Seed Salad

Prep time: 15 mins | Assembly : 10 mins | Serves 4 as a starter



300g fresh seedless watermelon, sliced
100ml red wine, Côtes du Rhône or Grenache recommended (for non-alcoholic version, substitute with high quality syrup, such as maple or agave, or organic cold-pressed coconut oil)
50g wild rocket leaves
1 tbsp each dried cranberry, crushed walnut, chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (or any other nuts and seeds you have on hand)
1/2 ball of burrata cheese, cut in quarters
1 tbsp quinoa puffs

1 large lime, juiced
1 tbsp high quality maple syrup (grade A if you can get your hands on it!)


  1. Place watermelon slices in a shallow dish, pour in wine (or substitute) and ensure all of the watermelon is covered by the wine. Soak overnight for best results, or for at least 2 hours
  2. When time to assemble, cut watermelon into various sized pieces
  3. Place watermelon pieces, rocket leaves, dried cranberries, nuts, seeds and burrata chunks into a large bowl
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice and maple syrup, adjusting to taste (add more lime or more syrup for a more sour or sweeter dressing)
  5. Pour dressing onto salad and toss to coat
  6. Transfer to communal plate and sprinkle quinoa puffs on top just before serving

Love Chef Donny's food? Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.


Hope you'll enjoy this salad with your guests and have a wonderful holiday season at home.

Stay safe,


Toni Chan
August Society Founder & Creative Director

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