It’s hard to beat a luscious slice of cold, juicy watermelon on a hot day. But the perennial summer favorite also packs nutrition and sophistication into simple and colorful recipes for standouts from refreshing cocktails, unexpected salads and sandwiches to show-stopping desserts.
Watermelon’s bright red color has more lycopene than tomatoes, with up to 20 milligrams in each two-cup serving. There are plenty of vitamins A, C and B6 in this versatile fruit as well. It’s also low in cholesterol, fat and sodium—not to mention only 80 calories in two cups. Because watermelon is 92 percent water, it’s filling, hydrating and satisfying. Whether you opt for exotic and surprising recipes, or just plain chin-dribbling slices, summer isn’t summer without watermelon.
Watermelon Cherry Mojito
3 pieces of fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup watermelon puree (see instructions below)
1 teaspoon cherry syrup
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 ounces light rum
1 bottle chilled sparkling water
1 sugar cane stirrer
1 lime wedge
Using a fork, press the mint back to coat the inside of the glass and leave it in the glass. Add the watermelon puree, cherry syrup, lime juice and rum. Stir well. Top with ice. Top off the glass with sparkling water or club soda. Add the sugar cane stirrer and lime wedge to the glass and serve.
To make the watermelon puree, remove seeds from fresh watermelon and cut into large chunks. Place in a blender and process until smooth and well pureed.
Lemony Quinoa and Watermelon Salad
Adding a bit of fat from the nuts helps boost absorption of the lycopene in watermelon, a compound that helps lower the risk for cancer and heart disease.
4 tablespoons agave syrup
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Salt to taste
2 cups cooked black quinoa
2 3/4 cups watermelon cubes
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons shredded coconut
½ cup candied pecans (instructions below)
In a medium bowl, blend thoroughly the agave syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, and salt. Add the quinoa and toss until fully coated. Set aside to allow flavors to blend. Add the watermelon, kiwi, coconut, and nuts. Toss. Divide into four bowls and garnish each with a mint sprig.
Purchase already candied nuts, such as Sahale Snacks Valdosta Pecans, or use the following recipe:
Toss 1 /2 cup pecans with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Mix a dash each of ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cayenne, cumin, and salt with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Toss nuts with this spice blend and roast in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Cool.
Grilled Cheese, Watermelon and Arugula Sandwich
4 slices watermelon, cut to bread-size, ½” thick
8 slices 100% whole grain bread, preferably chewy in texture
2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided into 4 equal portions
1 ½ cups baby arugula
Place watermelon pieces between paper towels to absorb extra fluid. Set aside. On each of four slices of bread, spread mustard and top with 1 slice cheese. Top with second slice of bread. On a griddle, spray cooking spray and grill the sandwiches on each side until cheese begins to melt. Remove from griddle, open and place a slice of watermelon and arugula. Close sandwich and cut in half. Serve.
Watermelon Granita-Filled Lime Cups
12 halves limes (reserve 2 tablespoons juice)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
4 cups watermelon cubes
½ cup currants or raisins
crushed ice (optional)
To make lime cups: Cut limes in half lengthwise; cut around pulp of each half with sharp knife, leaving peel intact. Scoop out pulp, using spoon to loosen pulp from peel and reserve 2 tablespoons lime juice for granita. Set lime cups aside. Stir together sugar and water in small saucepan; heat to boiling. Cool slightly. Place watermelon in container of food processor; pulse to puree watermelon. Place colander over bowl; pour pureed watermelon into colander to strain out seeds, forcing watermelon through with back of spoon, if needed. Stir reserved lime juice and cooled sugar mixture into pureed watermelon. Pour into 13x9x2-inch pan; freeze until firm, about 4 hours. To serve, scrape frozen watermelon mixture with spoon to make granita. Stir in currants for seeds. Mound granita in lime cups. Serve on bed of crushed ice.
BIO: Kimberly Field is a frequent contributor to the New West Publishing family of mag