Everyone knows that a perfectly ripe watermelon does not need any ornament, except perhaps a light pinch of salt.
But what about those not-so-perfect melons? Those who only needed a few more days in the sun or experienced a little too much rain on the vines?
Even armed with the knowledge of how to choose a watermelon, some melons – especially after eating a sweet one – fall short of our expectations.
The following recipes are some of our favorite ways to use those not-so-perfect melons; prepare them with a watermelon of impeccable sweetness and they will be even better.
With over 90% water, it’s no wonder the juicy, often ruby-red-fleshed fruit is a summer favorite and a cool spot can be as refreshing as a glass of water. on a hot day.
When we think of watermelons, most of us imagine bright green striped skin and pink to red flesh. But not all watermelons are streaked green, and not all have reddish flesh.
Some varieties have yellow or orange flesh, while others have white to pale pink flesh. Some varieties of watermelon, such as black diamond and black beauty, have little or no visible streaking. There are even some yellow-skinned watermelons – we spotted some recently for sale at Holland Bottom Farm in Cabot. Like most fruits, there can be subtle differences in flavor between varieties (think gala apple versus honey crumble), but they all taste like watermelon.
Choosing a watermelon can be a tricky business. The following suggestions can make the process a bit easier.
◼️ Look for firm, symmetrical melons without bruises, deep cuts, or bumps.
◼️ Select heavy melons for their size.
◼️ The underside of the melon should have a yellow or cream spot where the melon is resting on the ground.
◼️ The skin of the melon should appear dull; avoid shiny melons.
◼️ Always clean the outside of the melon before cutting it. Even though the thick skin protects the flesh, any grain, bacteria or residue present on the rind can be transferred by a knife during cutting.
If you don’t have room in your fridge to keep a whole melon, try placing the melon on a floor air conditioning rack. Cool air blown through the vent will help cool the melon slightly.
To remove excess liquid from watermelon that will be used in salads and salsas, take the sugar bowl, not the salt shaker.
America’s Test Kitchen recommends a ratio of 2 teaspoons of sugar to 4 cups of cubed watermelon. Combine the sugar with the melon in a colander placed on a large bowl and let drain for 30 minutes. Discard (or save for another use) the liquid and use the watermelon as directed in the recipe.
This pretty rosy drink is just as good without the rum. For a thicker, thicker drink, substitute the pineapple juice for about ¼ cup of frozen pineapple.
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Pina Colada pastel
- 2 ounces of white rum (silver)
- 3 ounces of pineapple juice
- 1 ounce of coconut cream
- 1 cup cubed fresh watermelon, plus wedges for garnish
- 1 cup of ice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and garnish with a wedge of watermelon.
Makes 2 drinks.
Koloa rum recipe
Watermelon Salad (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Kelly Brant)
Sweet, salty, spicy and just a little tart – this salad hits all of our favorite summer flavor notes.
- 6 cups of watermelon cubes or balls
- 1 cup sliced cucumber
- Very thinly sliced red onion, to taste
- Very thinly sliced or minced jalapeno or Fresno pepper, to taste
- Several leaves of fresh basil, cut into julienne if the leaves are large
- 1 to 2 ounces of feta cheese
- Juice and zest of ½ to 1 lemon OR lime
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, to taste
- Coarse salt, to taste
Combine watermelon, cucumbers, red onion, chili and basil in a large, shallow bowl or on a platter. Crumble the feta and spread it over the watermelon mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice (or lime) and olive oil. Drizzle with salad. Sprinkle very lightly with coarse salt.
Makes about 4 servings.
Watermelon, Chicken and Pecan Salad (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Kelly Brant)
When made with roast chicken, this salad makes for a delicious no-cook summer dinner.
Watermelon, chicken and pecan salad
- 2 ½ to 3 cups cubed or balled watermelon
- 1 package (5 to 6 ounces) baby spinach or other green salads
- Pepper Jelly Dressing (recipe follows)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped or grated cooked chicken
- ½ cup crumbled cheese such as feta or gorgonzola
- ¾ cup toasted pecan halves
In a large bowl, combine the watermelon and green salad. Add dressing and toss gently to coat. Add the chicken, cheese and pecans and toss again gently.
Makes 4 servings.
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Pepper Jelly Dressing
- ¼ cup of rice vinegar
- ¼ cup jalapeño pepper jelly
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced red onion
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, jelly, lime juice, onion, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, gradually add the oil in a slow, even stream, whisking until well blended.
Makes about ¾ cup.
Recipe adapted from “Southern Living What’s for Supper”
Fried Halloumi with Watermelon, Pistachios and Herbs (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Kelly Brant)
The combinations of flavors and textures of this dish made our taste buds sing. Just be sure to serve it immediately while the cheese is still hot.
Fried Halloumi With Watermelon, Pistachios And Herbs
- For the dressing:
- 2 ¼ cups diced watermelon, divided use
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 teaspoon of chopped Serrano or Jalapeno
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice OR white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- For the fried halloumi:
- 1 halloumi block (7 to 9 ounces) (queso fresco will work too)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons of chopped pistachios
- Fresh herbs like basil, mint, parsley and / or cilantro for garnish
Place 1 ¼ cup of diced watermelon in a colander or fine mesh sieve over a bowl and allow it to drain, stirring occasionally and gently crushing the cubes with the back of a spoon, for approx. 20 minutes. Strain the liquid into a mixing bowl. You should have about ½ cup. Add the red onion, chili, lime juice, sugar and salt to the watermelon juice and stir. Taste and adjust the salt, sugar and / or lime if needed. Stir in olive oil and season with black pepper.
Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Re-whip just before use.
Drain and cut the halloumi into 8 slices and dry them with a paper towel.
Heat a thin film of oil in a large, well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working a few slices at a time, sear cheese on one side until golden (it won’t melt, just brown), 3 to 5 minutes. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Arrange on individual plates or in a dish.
Drizzle cheese with vinaigrette and sprinkle with pistachios, remaining diced watermelon and herbs.
Makes about 4 servings.
Dressing Recipe Adapted from “Dressings and Other Dressings: 60 Sensational Recipes to Brighten Up Greens, Grains, Salads, and All Kinds of Salads” by Michele Anna Jordan (Harvard Common Press)
Watermelon gazpacho (Democratic Gazette file photo)
For those days when it’s too hot to cook, gazpacho is a dinner saver. Serve with cold sandwiches or garnish with frozen cooked shrimp from the freezer and crusty bread to prepare a meal.
Tomato and watermelon gazpacho
- 4 cups of cubed watermelon
- 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup chopped, peeled and seedless cucumber
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, seeded and coarsely chopped (optional)
- ¼ to ½ red onion, chopped
- ½ to 1 jalapeño or Fresno pepper, seeded, if desired
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Diced avocado, cooked shrimp or other seafood, croutons and / or crumbled feta for garnish
In a blender or food processor, combine watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and chili; process until smooth. Stir in the salt and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Drizzle each serving with olive oil and garnish with desired toppings.
Makes about 4 servings.