8 Ways to Use Watermelon
Nothing says summer like a sweet, juicy watermelon. This perennial picnic favorite can be enjoyed by the slice, but there are so many ways to incorporate this seasonal crowd-pleaser into all kinds of dishes and recipes. Fun fact: Watermelons are considered vegetables — they’re classified in the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. This is one veggie you won’t have to convince the kids to try!
Sweet and spicy is such a satisfying pair; fresh cubes of watermelon enhance a kicked-up salsa recipe, especially one packed with other summer veggies, like this crunchy corn salsa.
Just like other sweet fruits and veggies, watermelon is a tasty addition to savory salads. A classic combo salad is watermelon, feta and mint, and watermelon makes a dramatic centerpiece in a wedge salad.
For those steamy days when you just can’t bear the thought of a hot dinner, try a pureed watermelon gazpacho with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and herbs.
Add a burst of fresh flavor to your morning smoothie by throwing in a handful of cubed watermelon! Because it has a high water content, you might be able to reduce the amount of milk, juice or other liquid that you normally add to your smoothie.
For an easy, elegant happy hour libation, make DIY watermelon margaritas! Simply puree watermelon in the blender until smooth, then strain with a fine mesh colander. Scoop a few tablespoons into a cocktail shaker and then add in an ounce or two of your favorite tequila, a splash of fresh lime juice and a dash of simple syrup for added sweetness. Shake over ice and strain into a margarita glass.
Here’s your new favorite healthy dessert: Fruit pizza! Slice a big circle of watermelon and place it on a plate. Spread a cup of yogurt (non-dairy to keep it vegan!) on the top. Decorate the top with berries, shredded coconut, cacao nibs or chocolate chips — and any other sweet bits you enjoy — and then cut into triangular, pizza-esque slices.
Such an easy refreshing treat: Put about a pound of fresh watermelon cubes into a blender with one or two tablespoons of sugar, maple syrup or another sweetener. Add in a few ounces of orange or lime juice and then blitz until liquified (you may need to add more juice or water to get it to a liquid consistency). Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solid.
If you just want to enjoy classic watermelon slices, you can still dress them up a bit for an extra pop of color and flavor. Arrange the slices on a plate and sprinkle the tops with good-quality sea salt and a shower of fresh herbs, like mint, basil and cilantro. For a bit of heat, add the slightest dusting of cayenne pepper.
Watermelon prep tips
- If you buy a large watermelon, break down at least half of it into snackable cubes. This makes it much more likely that your family will reach for it like they do with other convenient fruits.
- Always cut a watermelon with a freshly sharpened chef’s knife. You need a large blade to cut through the tough skin and thick rind of the melon.
- Don’t throw the rind away! Turn them into tasty quick pickles, perfect to serve alongside rich meats and barbeque. Cut just the white part of the rind into bite-sized pieces. In a saucepan, combine one cup of vinegar — white vinegar or cider vinegar work well. Add half a cup of water, 2½ teaspoons table salt or a scant 4 teaspoons kosher salt, and other spices, like star anise, peppercorns, fennel seeds or fresh ginger, all optional. Over high heat, bring the vinegar mix to a boil, add the watermelon rind and then boil for one minute. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool until it is room temperature, then pour into a quart-sized (or larger) jar. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and then enjoy for the next 7 to 10 days.