6 Unique Ways to Eat Watermelon

By Linsey Knerl on 24 May 2009 (Updated 2 July 2010) 23 comments
Photo: Kanko*

Watermelon can be considered frugal. While not exactly “cheap” in price, it can be purchased for a fair amount per pound (while on sale) and is one of those foods that goes the extra mile at a gathering. (We’ve been successful at producing a “fishes and loaves” effect when providing watermelon to more guests than we were prepared to have. Surprisingly, the watermelon helped keep everyone happy — even when the burgers and beans were in limited supply.)

If the thought of using a melon baller or cutting it into cubes is tedious and boring, try these ten inspired dishes. They are not for everyone, but for those that dig the melon, they are true delicacies.

Alcoholic Drinks

If you’re a teetotaler, just skip this part (or check out this simple recipe from Chow). Otherwise, you can easily reproduce the tasty flavor of more expensive melon liquors with your own homemade potion. Here’s a great place to start (recipe compliments of the National Watermelon Promotion Board):

Watermelon Cosmopolitan

Ingredients:
1 ½ ounces vodka
¾ ounce Triple Sec
½ ounce Roses lime juice
2 ounces watermelon juice

Instructions:
Pour all ingredients over ice and shake in tin until ice cold. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with watermelon ball.

Note: Recipes that require just the juice of the melon (and not the fruit) are easy to make ahead. Simply freeze the juice into ice cube trays and store the cubes in a freezer bag for when you need them. You can make mixed drinks and other treats all year long! (Additional ice cube strategies can be found via Myscha’s popular article.)

Sandwiches

What? I know. It freaked me out a bit at first, as well. When you think about how much a watermelon has in common with a tomato, however, you can see that you could easily substitute watermelon in many sandwich recipes. Watermelon is especially appropriate in a pita or wrap with ham, chicken, and a mild cheese (plus lot of lettuce to give extra crunch). A nice, warm ciabatta bread with grilled chicken is how I’d serve my ideal watermelon sandwich, but if that’s too tame for you, check out this Watermelon Sloppy Joe!

Soups

Melon soup would most likely be served chilled, and there are dozens of recipes for variations of it. I particularly liked this 90-calorie version from SELF magazine, which gives you options for including either wine or sparkling water in the recipe. (I’ve noticed that many traditional watermelon soups contain fresh mint leaves in the recipe or as a garnish. If you don’t already have a small pot of fresh mint growing on your kitchen window sill — it’s a very easy way to invest in your culinary future!)

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Ice Cream

There are two ways to go with this: You can either make watermelon ice cream, or use the watermelon as a mix-in or garnish for your ice cream. There are plenty of watermelon ice cream recipes to choose from (many are actually more sorbets than creams), but I’m partial to this Emeril creation that also includes chocolate chips. For most standard ice creams, it’s usually common to use watermelon in the same proportion as the heavy cream, and then use honey and a tiny amount of sugar for additional sweetness (remember, watermelon is already very naturally sweet!).

The second option for incorporating watermelon into your icy treats is to do a banana split with no banana. You guessed it! Substitute watermelon instead. It’s very tasty!

Fried

What post of mine would be complete without frying something? Seriously, I grew up in a culture that accepted lard as an acceptable topping for toast, and I’m very aware that the state fair to the East of Nebraska deep fries everything (pickles, oreos, you name it). I’m in love with the idea of frying it lightly in a healthier oil (canola) and dusting the finished product with powdered sugar. I suppose it would be similar to a funnel cake?

Salsas

Fruit salsa are popular everywhere, and I’ve always been keen on the idea. Unfortunately, they usually require mango as a main ingredient, and to be honest, I’m not a mango fan. The inclusion of watermelon into a salsa recipe gives it a milder flavor, but still offers a sweet compliment to your chips, meats, and fish. Try this simple recipe from the National Watermelon Promotion Board to get started (it can be stretched further for additional guests by serving over shredded lettuce):

2 cans corn kernels, rinsed and drained
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 purple onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
Juice from 2 fresh limes
¼ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
3 cups chopped seedless watermelon

Mix together all ingredients except watermelon until well combined. Gently fold in watermelon. Chill. Serves 12 to 18.

Don’t see anything you like? Maybe you’re not a watermelon fan, but it’s also possible that you just aren’t using the right watermelon. Melons come in all kinds of varieties (seedless, traditional, heirloom) and give varying amounts of flavor and sweetness. Some taste more like the earth that they were grown in, and others offer a palette of color and texture. Experiment to find the watermelon that works for you, or consider growing your own for next year!

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Guest's picture
Guest

My friend from Greece loves to eat slices of watermelon paired with feta cheese. Mmmm.

Andrea Karim's picture

 On a recent trip to London, we were offered watermelon with ackawi, a salty cheese popluar in the Middle East. I thought it was delicious.

Guest's picture
Jenn

I puree leftover watermelon with lime juice and make popsicles. It's a little more grown-up flavor but the kids love them.

Guest's picture
Kris

Two words: watermelon lemonade. I had this at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor two years ago, and it is surprisingly divine.

I also like to make watermelon sorbet, rather than ice cream. Even better with a little crystalized ginger in the mix.

Myscha Theriault's picture

When I was growing up, I remember the grownups spiking it. You basically drill a hole in the top and turn an open bottle of gin / vodka / watermelon liquor upside down and shove it into place while it slowy empties out into the inside of the uncut watermelon. Then you cut it and serve it. But the drink thing sounds good too. Do you run it through a food mill to get the seeds out?

Linsey Knerl's picture

Yes, I've heard of using it to get seeds out.  Otherwise, anykind of juicer would probably be OK (as long as it separates the solids from the juice.)

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

Cut up the watermelon, break up French feta (less salty than the Greek kind), add chopped cilantro. Mix, serve, eat.

You can also layer them (watermelon base, then feta, then cilantro), but the salad presentation is easier.

Guest's picture
hustler

These all sound pretty good. I can almost taste the watermelon and cheese together. I like apple and cheese, so I think it would be similar. I'm definitely going to try the sandwich. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Guest

Cut off and discard the green layer of the rind, then chop the white layer into small pieces. (It's a bit tastier if you also remove all traces of pink, but it's a lot prettier and also more convenient if you don't bother.) Roll these in a mixture of cornmeal and ground black pepper, then fry in a minimal quantity of oil. The result is delicious and the main ingredient is effectively free.

I've also seen recipes for candied rind but they don't sound nearly as appetizing to me.

Guest's picture
Alli

I can't believe you didn't add watermelon rind pickles to the list! Again, like the poster above me, an additional recipe to get out of your watermelon with a main ingredient that is practically free.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Wow!  I LOVE the rind suggestions!  Pickles are a favorite food of mind, and this seems to perfect for our committment to try to use every bit of a fruit. (Especially since our chickens won't touch the rind.)

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
wildgift

That picture shows a melon with almost no rind. When I was a child, I recall there was always a thick rind. It'd get pickled. I didn't like watermelon, but the pickles were okay.

Torley Wong's picture

Linsey, was so thrilled to see this — watermelon IS my uncontested #1 fruit and this is such a fun, summery article.

I historically think of watermelons as sweeter rather than salty/spicy (as they could be in salsa) but opening up my taste palette is worth it to explore thoses senses and be creative. Thanks for sharing your melontastic ideas!

Carrie Kirby's picture

These ideas are helpful cause at our house there tends to be an initial rush of excitement over a melon and then the last quarter or so sits in the fridge to rot. With these ideas maybe I'll be able to use the whole thing up with no waste.

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I picked the picture because I thought the thin rind was unique (I've never eaten one like this, personally).  Since there are so many variations of watermelon, it's not impossible to find ones with little to no rind, some small enough for just one or two people, or jumbo watermelons with extra thick rinds.  They are selectively "bred" to meet different needs, but the ones I"m used to are the Black Diamonds with the very thick rinds. 

Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl's picture

I think I might have been looking at your Twitter avatar when I was suddenly inspired to jot down all my watermelon tips.  :)  My husband gets crazy over watermelon, and he's big into the watermelon festival they have in his home town.  I love that we can give the kids each a huge slice, and then turn them out into the yard for mess-free dining.  Then we send them through the sprinklers a couple of times before letting them back in.  Dinner and cleanup has never been so easy!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
Guest

I found a recipe for the Greek watermelon salad a few years ago in Prevention magazine. Watermelon, feta, and fresh mint - add a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Eat immediately, or the salad turns to mush. This is a favorite of mine!

Enjoy!

Guest's picture

Excellent ideas to try. We love watermelon in this house!

Guest's picture

You got me craving for watermelons!

Guest's picture
Guest

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Guest's picture
Guest

This is a very interesting article on watermelon. I am originally from Mississippi, and we only know of one way to eat watermelon. The thing about it, I like the taste of it, but I don't like to work so hard at eating it because I hate the seeds. Maybe I swallowed one as a child of something. People say there are seedless watermelon, but they are not really seedless.

Never known you could fry it or make sandwiches out of watermelon. I don't know how that would take since I am very fickle about eating.

Guest's picture
ecortesvaliente

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Bye!

Guest's picture
IlyceGlink

Great ideas! They all sound delicious!