Watermelon needn’t be reserved for eating out of hand or for dessert. You can enjoy the fruit in appetizers, salads and main courses too.
Don’t overlook the watermelon rind, which is regarded as a delicacy by some. In China, for instance, it’s used in stir-fries like a vegetable. The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles. Below is a recipe for chutney that incorporates the rind.
Watermelon Pomegranate Toss
This salad supplies more than half your day’s need for the B vitamin folate, the entire day’s need for vitamin A, and hefty doses of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants. It is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds shown to protect eyes from vision loss.
250 ml (1 cup) pomegranate juice
15 ml (1 tbsp) balsamic or pomegranate vinegar
22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) orange zest
15 ml (1 tbsp) agave syrup
1 small shallot, minced
0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) stone-ground mustard
125 ml (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 l (8 cups) baby spinach (one 175-g/6-oz pkg)
175 ml (3/4 cup) diced red onion
500 ml (2 cups) diced watermelon (place on paper towel to drain excess fluid)
1 pkg (175 g/6 oz) fresh raspberries
125 ml (1/2 cup) pomegranate seeds
Dressing: in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, place juice and simmer until reduced to about 45 ml (3 tbsp) and liquid is a thick syrup. Set aside. When cool, add remaining dressing ingredients. Whip. Set aside to allow flavours to blend. Makes about 175 ml (3/4 cup).
Salad: In a large serving bowl, place spinach. Top with onion, watermelon, raspberries and pomegranate seeds. Divide among 4 salad plates and drizzle with dressing.
Makes four servings.
Grilled Thai Chicken
This dish is low in fat and calories and packed with flavour. Serve it with basmati rice, a tossed salad and Watermelon Rind Chutney (recipe follows).
1 can (400 ml/13 1/2 oz) light coconut milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) minced fresh ginger
15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon grass paste
15 ml (1 tbsp) fish sauce
10 ml (2 tsp) curry powder
Dash red pepper flakes
10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
75 ml (1/3 cup) minced fresh cilantro
4 skinned and boned chicken breasts (cut into strips for satay skewers)
Wooden skewers (soak in water for at least 30 minutes)
Vegetable oil, for grilling
Satay: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except chicken breasts over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Score chicken breasts to allow more flavour to penetrate into meat. In a large self-sealing plastic bag, place chicken strips and pour in cool marinade. Seal. Distribute marinade well, covering chicken. Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Thread chicken onto soaked skewers just before you are ready to grill.
Heat grill, brushing surface with a little vegetable oil to keep chicken from sticking. Place marinated chicken on hot grill, brushing with leftover marinade the first few times you turn it. Chicken is ready when meat inside is opaque and can be easily sliced. (Alternatively, this can be cooked in a frying pan or baked in the oven.)
Makes four servings.
Watermelon Rind Chutney
This chutney recipe is an excellent way to use watermelon rind which many consider waste. It’s easy to make but tastes best when prepared in advance. It’s delicious with Grilled Thai Chicken. Extra chutney can be used to complement a cheese board or to top sausages or pork.
1 l (4 cups) watermelon rind (fruit and outer green skin removed and cut into 1-cm/1/2-inch pieces)
250 ml (1 cup) apple cider vinegar
125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
50 ml (1/4 cup) minced fresh ginger
15 ml (1 tbsp) minced garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, place all ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until rind is tender and translucent and liquid is syrupy, about 45 minutes. Let chutney cool, uncovered, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days to let flavours mellow.
Super Green Detox Smoothie
Gochujang is a Korean hot chili paste made from red chili powder, rice powder, powdered fermented soybeans and salt. It is finding its way into Canadian kitchens. This smoothie combines vitamin- and antioxidant-rich watermelon with super-nutritious greens like kale, mint and parsley. Because it’s satisfying it helps curb hunger.
750 ml (3 cups) watermelon cubes
50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh parsley
500 ml (2 cups) packed kale
50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh mint leaves
10 ml (2 tsp) green tea powder
10 ml (2 tsp) gochujang paste
45 ml (3 tbsp) pineapple juice concentrate
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
In a blender, place watermelon, then add remaining ingredients on top. Start blending slowly until watermelon is liquefied, then increase speed. Blend for one to two minutes.
Makes 750 ml (3 cups) or three servings.
Source: National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon.org.