Watermelon is just one of those quintessential summer fruits – it’s the perfect bite on a hot summer day. While watermelon is delicious on its own (a picnic is not a picnic without one), there are so many watermelon recipes to try. From savory to sweet, from the main dish to beverage, the list goes on and on! Here are five tried and true watermelon recipes that will shake up your summer meal planning ideas.
Grilled Watermelon Salad
I love grilling fruit (grilled pineapples really step up a burger), but I’ve never thought to grill watermelon. Wow, I’ve been missing out! The grilled watermelon is fantastic on its own, but I wanted to highlight it in a salad (recipe adapted from Food Network). Start with an inch thick watermelon “steak”, brush lightly with olive oil, and throw on a grill that’s been heated to medium-high. About 3 minutes per side and they’re good to go.
For the salad, I tossed baby arugula with olive oil (use the good stuff here), fleur de sel sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice. Place a piece of grilled watermelon on the greens, top with a few crumbles of goat cheese, drizzle with honey and a little more salt and pepper and you have your new favorite summer salad. It might be my new go-to!
To get even better char marks, you can salt the watermelon lightly and let drain on a paper towel for 20 minutes. I personally enjoyed the juicy watermelon more than the grill marks, but you choose what you prefer!
What I love about this sorbet recipe is not only the amazing flavor of watermelon and mint but just how easy it was to put together – you don’t even need an ice cream machine! Mine came out more like a granita (slushy/icy instead of a smooth sorbet) but it’s still very refreshing. Maybe the ice cream machine method would lead to a smoother result, but I can promise you it’s absolutely delicious and the perfect light, summery dessert.
Combine ¼ cup sugar and ¾ cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to low, simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and let cool completely (alternately for this recipe you can use pre-made simple syrup; I wanted less sugar since watermelon is already so sweet.)
Place 6 cups watermelon chunks and 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice in a food processor (do this in batches if needed). Pour liquid through a sieve to remove any seeds and overly thick puree; whisk in sugar syrup and throw in ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves. Pour everything into a 9” x 13” metal pan and freeze until ice crystals form at the edges, about 30 minutes. Stir crystals toward the center, then return to the freezer for 20 minutes then stir the ice crystals again. Keep repeating until all the liquid is frozen. Serve or transfer to another container to keep in the freezer until you need a refresher! Some fun variations to try would be to use maple syrup or honey as the sweetener or to make an adult sorbet by adding some rum or vodka. (Adapted from Eating Well)
This drink is perfect to make while you make the sorbet – not only because it’s a delish beverage to sip while you work, but you use the purée (sans seeds) that’s leftover in the sieve! Simply combine equal parts watermelon purée and vodka along with a squeeze of lime in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake it up, and pour it into a martini glass. Garnish with a piece of watermelon for extra cuteness. If you find the drink to be too thick, add more lime juice or some of the watermelon juice you made for the sorbet. Cheers!
Maple Watermelon Lemonade
Adapted from one of my all-time favorite foodie blogs, Smitten Kitchen, this lemonade is the perfect summer beverage. The following recipe makes a (very full) pitcher’s worth so you might want to scale it back if you have a small pitcher or just want to make a couple of glasses.
Purée watermelon chunks until you have 4 cups of juice; pass through a sieve to remove any seeds or extra thick purée (use this to make another martini!!). Stir together with 1 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (yes, this is a lot…took me 7 lemons. But hey, you’re making lemonade after all.), 1 cup of pure maple syrup, and 4 ½ cups cold water. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint sprig.
You can turn it into a cocktail by adding vodka or make a sparkling lemonade by subbing out some of the regular water for sparkling… or just make it as is because it’s that good.
A fun twist on regular old salsa is a fruit salsa – this one, with summery watermelon and pineapple, is more like a pico de gallo than a salsa but you could puree some of it or cut things into smaller pieces to have a more traditional salsa consistency. I personally like it extra chunky and is perfect with tortilla chips (I paired it with some delicious Late July chips – a brand we carry in our organic basket as well as gluten-free baskets) or as a topping for fish tacos, chicken, or grilled salmon. (Recipe adapted from Food Network)
In a large bowl, stir together the zest of one lime, ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add in 3 cups diced watermelon, 1 large cucumber that’s been peeled and diced, 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper (to your taste buds), 1 chopped green pepper, and 8 finely chopped basil leaves. Chill until you’re ready to serve it, and just before serving, stir in ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
And while this isn’t a recipe, if you have leftover watermelon from a picnic, cut it up into cubes and freeze them. They make great “ice” cubes or you have them ready on hand when you want to juice them, throw them in a smoothie, or use them to make any of the drinks or the sorbet above! Way better than having it get soft and mushy in the fridge any day.
Watermelon is a versatile summer fruit and you can use it in so many recipes. These watermelon recipes are just a start – let your creativity flow this summer and don’t hesitate to experiment and create your own watermelon recipes!
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