Food of the Week: Watermelon

“It’s so refreshing!” In this line from my favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 A&E version), Caroline Bingley is referring to walking, but her line applies equally well to that quintessential summer fruit, watermelon. Not only is watermelon refreshing, but it’s delicious and delightfully messy. It’s a fact that eating watermelon outdoors, with a child, and getting it all over yourselves and your environment improves its taste by 72 percent.
Comprising over 90 percent water, watermelon provides excellent hydration. One cup of diced watermelon contains 46 calories, 1 gram of fiber, and about 20 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. Like tomatoes, watermelon has been touted as a key source of the phytochemical lycopene, which may have anticancer properties. Lycopene is fat-soluble, so pairing watermelon with a fat like oil or cheese is a good way to enhance its nutritional value.

Recently, I purchased seeded watermelon to test one of the recipes below, and it was rather annoying to remove the seeds by hand. A trifling problem in the grand scheme of things, I know, but still, it’s nice that seedless watermelon is widely available. As the National Watermelon Board points out, seedless watermelon is not genetically modified, but a hybrid fruit.

French Watermelon

A.k.a. boozy watermelon, a.k.a. picnic win.

1 medium-sized watermelon, cubed
1 c. vodka
½ c. sugar
15 fresh mint leaves, chopped

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1–2 hours.

Tropical Watermelon Salad

There are plenty of things you could add to this basic recipe (such as pineapple, mango, lime zest, or orange zest), but it feels complete on its own, too.

Plain yogurt
Pineapple juice
Sweetened, shredded coconut
Watermelon chunks
Macadamia nuts, toasted

Mix the yogurt with a small amount of pineapple juice. Do not thin very much, as the watermelon will add considerable moisture. Stir some coconut into the yogurt, then toss the dressing with the watermelon and macadamia nuts. Chill until ready to serve.

Watermelon Salsa

To vary this recipe, you might omit some of the ingredients, or add cilantro, Anaheim peppers, cucumber, or onion. This salsa would be great on fish tacos.

2 c. seedless watermelon, minced
½–1  c. fresh tomatoes, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 T. vegetable oil
Juice from 1–1 ½ fresh limes
1 T. cumin
1 t. chili powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and chill for a while, allowing flavors to blend.

Shrimp Watermelon Sate

Adapted from a National Watermelon Promotion Board brochure.
¼ c. seasoned rice vinegar
½ c. chunky peanut butter
1 t. minced fresh garlic
1 T. minced fresh ginger
1-2 t. soy sauce
Dash of hot pepper sauce or ground cayenne pepper
16 jumbo shrimp, cleaned, poached, and chilled
16 (2-in.) cubes of seedless watermelon

Blend the vinegar into the peanut butter until well combined. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, and season with pepper sauce or cayenne to taste. Pour all but 2 T. of the dressing over the shrimp and toss to coat. Chill for one hour. To serve, alternate shrimp and watermelon cubes on 4 skewers and baste with the remaining dressing, or serve with remaining dressing as a dip.

Note: You can make these with smaller shrimp and toothpicks, if desired.

Watermelon and Feta,
Two Ways

Watermelon slices
Feta cheese

Option 1:
Balsamic vinegar
Pine nuts (preferably toasted)

Cook the balsamic vinegar over medium heat until thickened. Drizzle over the watermelon and feta, then sprinkle with pine nuts.

Option 2:
Fresh mint leaves, chopped

Drizzle the honey over the watermelon and feta, then sprinkle with the mint.

Peach, Tomato,
and Watermelon Salad

This is a reprint from a year ago. So good and pretty, I think it’s worth repeating. Serves 2.

1 large ripe peach, pitted and peeled
1 large ripe tomato
4 thin wedges of watermelon
Salt and pepper
Crumbled blue cheese

Thinly slice the peach and tomato, and remove the rind from the watermelon. Layer the peach, tomato, and melon into 2 stacks, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Sprinkle blue cheese on top.

Watermelon and Goat Cheese

One more watermelon and cheese recipe.

Watermelon cubes
Goat cheese
Black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Arrange the watermelon cubes on a platter, top with slices of goat cheese, sprinkle with pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

Watermelon Wedges with Ginger-Lime Syrup

Any leftover syrup would make a delightful cocktail. From John Barricelli’s “The Seasonal Baker.” (Not a baking recipe, but whatever.)

¼ watermelon
½ c. sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 T. grated peeled fresh ginger

Cut the watermelon into triangular wedges and chill. In a small saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until chilled. To serve, spoon syrup over the watermelon wedges.