Enjoy a taste of summer with watermelon

This sweet treat is nutritious and versatile, with a featured role in snacks, desserts and seasonal salads

    Watermelon is a taste of summer. Sweet and juicy, it is a refreshing treat and a delightful accompaniment to grilled foods like brats and burgers.
    But watermelon can be much more. Toss it in salads and smoothies for a tasty snack, or use it as a dessert. Top lemon yogurt with watermelon cubes, grill a few slices to caramelize the natural sugars or blend watermelon and sugar for a homemade sorbet.
    Watermelon makes a delicious salsa, and is a cool addition to salads, vinaigrettes and sauces.
    Make watermelon juice by pureeing it in a blender or food processor, then pressing it through a sieve to remove the solids. Serve the juice cold or freeze it into cubes to add to beverages or water.
    If you’ve been out sweating in the sun, eating watermelon is a good way to make sure you remain hydrated, since watermelon is about 92% water.
    But there’s more to watermelon than just water. Two cups of watermelon chunks contain 25% of the daily requirement of vitamin A and 30% of vitamin C. It also contains B6, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
    It’s also a good source of lycopene, containing more of it than tomatoes. Watermelon also is low or free of cholesterol, fat and sodium.
    Watermelons, cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, are the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
    When picking a watermelon, look for a firm, symmetrical melon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents. It should be heavy for its size, and the underside should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
    The FDA recommends washing watermelons in clean, running water before cutting them.
    Following are recipes featuring watermelon from watermelon.org and thekitchn.com.



Kung Pao Shrimp

2 tablespoons peanut oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 cup dry roasted and salted peanuts
1 cup prepared Kung Pao sauce
2 cups chopped watermelon

    Heat oil in a large, heavy sauté pan or wok over high heat. Sauté garlic for 30 seconds, then add shrimp. Stir-fry until the shrimp begin to cook and plump up. Add peanuts and sauté another 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low and add sauce. Simmer just until shrimp are cooked. Remove from heat. Stir in watermelon and serve immediately.
    Makes six servings.

Watermelon Flatbread

1 cup warm watermelon juice
4 tablespoons dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
1/3 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
1/3 cup thinly sliced green bell peppers
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
2/3 cup thinly sliced red onions
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup watermelon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

    Pour 1 cup warm watermelon juice into large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over juice and let stand about 10 minutes, until mixture is foamy. Mix in oil and salt.
    Combine both flours in medium bowl. Stir flour mixture into yeast mixture, then place mixture on a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray, add dough and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about one hour.
    Combine all vegetables in a bowl and mix.
    Punch dough down and divide into four equal pieces. Wrap and let rise about 10 minutes. Roll each dough piece on floured surface to about a seven-inch square. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick spray and place breads on them. Top each bread with a quarter of the topping. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through and brown on bottom. Serve warm.
    Makes six servings.

Fish Tacos With Watermelon and Radish Slaw

1 pound tilapia
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 garlic clove, grated
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash salt
Dash pepper
For slaw:
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup radishes cut into matchsticks
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 cup seedless watermelon, diced small
Dash salt

    Place fish in a freezer bag with olive oil, lime juice, honey, garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Close bag and coat fish completely. Marinate for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature.
    Place fish on a broiler pan and lightly season with salt and pepper. Broil for five minutes. Turn fish over and broil  another three to five minutes, until it easily flakes. Remove fish.
    Turn oven off. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in oven to warm.
    Place Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and lime juice in a bowl and stir until combined. Add cabbage, radishes and cilantro and toss lightly. Add watermelon and salt to taste and toss lightly.
    Remove tortillas from oven. Place fish on two tortillas and top with slaw. Garnish with extra cilantro. Serve warm.


Summertime Mojito Watermelon Salad

8 cups watermelon chunks
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup rum
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water

    Place watermelon in a large bowl and set aside.
    In a blender, combine mint leaves, rum, lime juice, sugar and warm water.  Blend until smooth. Pour mint mixture over watermelon and toss gently until evenly coated. Serve immediately, topping each serving with a sprig of mint, if desired, or refrigerate until ready to serve.



Watermelon Mint Frosé

1 750-milliliter bottle rosé wine
1 pound watermelon cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
8 to 10 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

    Pour rosé into ice cube trays and freeze at least six hours or overnight, until solid. Place watermelon cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure the cubes are not touching, and freeze at least two hours, then transfer to a container or zipper-top bag and keep frozen.
    Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until dissolved. Add mint and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit 15 minutes. Strain syrup into a small bowl, discard mint leaves and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to make drinks.
    Place rosé ice cubes, frozen watermelon, mint simple syrup and lemon juice in a blender and blend until combined and creamy. Pour into glasses and garnish each glass with a sprig of mint.
    Makes five servings.

Watermelon Salad Wedges With Blue Cheese

2 large slices watermelon
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup microgreens
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Fresh basil
Fresh oregano
For orange vinaigrette:
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon freshly squeeze orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon honey
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    For vinaigrette, whisk together lime juice, orange juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil until dressing is emulsified.
    Slice watermelon rounds into wedges. Top with tomatoes, microgreens, blue cheese, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Drizzle with orange vinaigrette and serve immediately.
    Makes two to four servings.

Watermelon Caramel Sauce

16 ounces watermelon juice
1/2 cup sugar

    In a medium saucepan, bring juice to a steady boil and cook about 30 minutes, until reduced to about 2/3 cup. As it cooks, the water and sugar from the melon will separate, and the liquid will eventually begin to thicken slightly.
    Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes, until thickened. Remove pan from the heat and cool before using.
    If you don’t eat it immediately, store it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for as long as one week.
    Makes four servings

Watermelon Jicama Salsa

4 cups diced seedless watermelon, about 3/8-inch
1-1/2 cups diced jicama, cut the same size as the watermelon
2 teaspoons seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup finely minced red onion
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    In a medium-large bowl, fold together watermelon, jicama, jalapeño, cilantro, red onion, lime juice and zest.  Sprinkle salt evenly over the top and fold again to combine.
    Serve at room temperature or chilled with tortilla chips, tacos or any Mexican dish.

Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

4 cups watermelon, cubed
1/4 cup sugar
15 basil leaves
1/2 cup water, room temperature
1 lime, juiced

    Place the watermelon, sugar and two to three ice cubes in a blender. Purée until smooth. Strain watermelon through fine-mesh strainer or cheese cloth and discard pulp.
    In a glass pitcher, combine water, lime juice and basil leaves. Muddle basil against the sides of the pitcher with a spoon. Pour watermelon into the pitcher, stir, and serve over ice. Garnish with lime and basil.         Water will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days.
    Makes two servings.

Watermelon Mimosas

2 cups cubed watermelon, chilled
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups chilled prosecco, divided

    Place watermelon, lime juice, and 1/4 cup prosecco in a blender. Blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or pitcher. Divide between two glasses and top with the remaining prosecco.
    Makes two servings.
    The strained watermelon base can be made and chilled one day in advance. The mixture will separate, so give it a hearty stir before topping with the alcohol.

Watermelon Curry

1 small, seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Steamed basmati rice, for serving

    Purée 1 cup watermelon cubes in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
    Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cumin seeds and cook about 30 seconds, until toasted and fragrant. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds, until it just starts to brown.
    Add puréed watermelon, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer three to five minutes, until liquid is reduced slightly and thickened.
    Add remaining watermelon cubes and toss gently to coat evenly coated with sauce. Cover pan and simmer three to five minutes, until watermelon is heated through. Taste and season with additional cayenne or salt as needed.
    Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice. Curry does not keep well, so it’s best eaten immediately.
    Makes four servings.

Salted Watermelon Ice

8 cups seedless watermelon
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    Puree all ingredients until smooth in either a food processor or blender.
    Pour puree into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker, pour puree into a freezer-safe bowl and freeze about three hours, until firm but still loose. Spoon ice into individual serving bowls and freeze until firm.




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