With Summer's Favorite Sweet Slice--Watermelon
July 2020 Issue
by Lindsay Gifford
Recipes, Information and Photography Provided by National Watermelon Promotion Board
It’s safe to say that watermelons are the symbol of summer. Because let’s be real, is there anything more American than chomping away on a chin-dribbling slice of juicy watermelon on a hot afternoon? No summer celebration—especially Independence Day—is complete without sweet, scrumptious and succulent watermelon.
In order to give your next wedge the edge, we went to the experts to bring you everything from flavorful fare to ripe refreshments. Representing 800 watermelon growers, shippers and importers nationwide, The National Watermelon Promotion Board boasts #watermeloneveryday from the vine to time to dine. Their website www.watermelon.org is a complete guide on everything watermelon from a "meet the growers" to hundreds of delicious recipes and staple sweet treats of summer.
Healthy and delicious, watermelon is a superfood that surprises and delights. Heart happy and nutrient dense with vitamins A, B6 and C, potassium, magnesium, thiamin and phosphorus, as well as a leader in antioxidant lycopene, watermelon supports whole-body wellness. And, that's not the juiciest...watermelon is 92 percent water, making it a delicious way to hydrate all year long. Yep, that's right, watermelon isn't just a summertime celebrity, it is an all-year-round, naturally-nutritious pick.
So you’re sold, right? But how does one pick out a sure-to-be-sweet melon? Don't fret, there are some key indicators: 1) Look the watermelon over. Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents. 2) Lift it up. At 92 percent water, the watermelon should be heavy for its size. 3) Turn it over. Look for a creamy yellow spot on the underside of the watermelon (called the “ground spot”). This is where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. Once cut from the vine, a watermelon has about 3-4 weeks of shelf life. And once sliced, it can be stored in a glass or plastic container in the refrigerator, where it should keep for at least 3-5 days. Fun Fact: 100 percent of the watermelon is edible; the rind, often discarded is great sliced into stir fries, fermented into pickles or carved into a simple summer centerpiece.
Whether you are adopting the KISS (Keep It Simply Sliced) method, ready to grill up some gourmet, or presenting a patriotic plate, watermelon has both sweet and savory options for the Fourth. Read on for all the juicy details.
Watermelon Ice Cream Bars
For the Watermelon Curd:
½ cup honey
¾ cup watermelon juice
2 Tbsps lime juice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
½ cup butter (1 stick), cut into small cubes
For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Crust:
8 graham crackers, crushed
2 Tbsps honey
4 Tbsps butter, melted, cooled
Pinch of salt
Basil leaves for garnish
Make the watermelon curd by combining the watermelon juice, lime juice, honey and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir to combine, then add the lightly beaten eggs. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, adding the cubed butter to the pan, and stir constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Immediately remove from the heat and carefully pour through a fine mesh sieve. Allow the mixture to cool completely in the refrigerator. While the curd cools, make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add the graham crackers to a food processor and pulse until rough crumbs form. Add the honey, salt, and melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper, then press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Allow the crust to cool completely.
When the crust and curd are completely cooled, whip the cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently push the cream to one side of the bowl and pour in the watermelon curd. Using a spatula, gently fold the cream and watermelon curd together until no streaks are visible. Pour the creamy watermelon mixture over the graham cracker crust. Place the loaf pan in the freezer and let the dessert freeze completely, 4-6 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, loosen the sides with a small spatula or butter knife. Turn the bars out onto a cutting board and use a large spatula to flip so the graham cracker crust is on the bottom. Cut into 8 bars and top each bar with a basil leaf. Serve immediately.
Red, White & Blue Cheese Sliders
8 slices Watermelon, 4” x 4” x ½”
½ cup crumbled Blue cheese
¼ cup Fat-free mayonnaise
2 to 4 drops Tabasco
2 Celery stalks, diced (approx ½ cup)
2 Tbsps Thyme leaves
½ medium Yellow onion, diced (½ cup)
½ cup Parsley, chopped
1 lb. Ground turkey breast
2 Tbsps Bread crumbs
Dash salt and pepper, to taste
8 Whole wheat slider buns
8 leaves of Bibb or butter lettuce
In a small bowl, blend blue cheese, mayo, and Tabasco. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend. Spray a medium, nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high. Add celery and onion and cook until onion is almost transparent, approximately 10 minutes. Add thyme and parsley. Toss and continue to cook for 4 minutes, or until parsley begins to wilt. Cool slightly. In a medium bowl, blend turkey, bread crumbs, and celery mixture, as well as salt and pepper to taste, until thoroughly mixed. Divide into 8 small, flat patties. Spray a nonstick skillet or griddle and heat on medium-high. Add patties and cook then turn and cook the other side until burger is cooked through, approximately 5 minutes per side. While patties are cooking, add buns to griddle or pan to toast on one side.
Assemble Sliders: Place ½ Tbsp blue cheese mayo on the bottom of each bun. (The photo shows a slice of blue cheese instead of the crumble/mayo.) Top with burger, a slice of watermelon, Bibb lettuce leaf, and other half of bun.
How to Make Watermelon Juice: Take ½ cup seedless Watermelon and cube. Put watermelon chunks in a blender, purée and strain. Creates ¼ cup fresh watermelon juice.
Fresh Mozzarella Watermelon Salad
2 cups seeded Watermelon, cubed small
2 cups fresh Mozzarella pearls
1 cup Fresh basil, chopped (purple or green)
1-2 Tbsp Scallions, trimmed and chopped
1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
Dash Balsamic vinegar, as desired
2 cups Mixed greens
Toss together the watermelon, mozzarella, basil, scallions and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of baby greens. Drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over if desired.
Baja Tacos with Spicy Watermelon Guacamole
Servings: 14 tacos
⅓ cup Cilantro, chopped
1 (4 oz) can diced Green chilis, drained
1½ cups Watermelon, diced
2 Tbsps Lime juice
2 medium Avocados, peeled and chopped
2 medium Garlic cloves, minced
Dash of salt, to taste
2 tsps Jalapeño pepper, diced (or to taste)
Baja Fish Tacos:
½ lbs Cod
Dash of Chili powder
Dash of Salt, to taste
12-16 Corn tortillas
3-4 cups commercial Coleslaw mix
½ - 1 cup commercial Salsa
1 cup Watermelon, diced small for topping
Guacamole: In a medium bowl, mash avocado to a mix of smooth and chunky. Add lime, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, and chilies and mix thoroughly. Add watermelon and salt (if desired) and toss. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend. Baja Fish Tacos: Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place cod on sheet and sprinkle with chili powder and salt. Bake for 12 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness of fish) or until barely cooked through. Remove from oven and cut into pieces. Heat tortillas on a grill or griddle. Top each with a few pieces of fish, ¼ cup cabbage mixture, a heaping spoonful of guacamole, a Tbsp of salsa, and a few pieces of diced watermelon.
Servings: 1 Pitcher
2 cups watermelon
1 cup other fruit
(we used berries)
Place all ingredients in a pitcher and enjoy.
8 cups cold Water
1 cup Lemon juice
3 cups Sugar
3 cups Watermelon chunks
Place watermelon in a blender and process until smooth. Pour watermelon puree into a large pitcher, add water, lemon juice, and sugar; stir until sugar has dissolved. Serve over ice or chill until ready to serve.
1 cup Watermelon juice
½ cup light Champagne (preferably not brut, try Asti Spumante or similar)
Divide watermelon juice among 2 to 3 champagne flutes. Fill with champagne and enjoy!
4 oz Vodka
2 oz Ginger beer
2 small Watermelon wedges
2 large Mint sprigs
2 oz Watermelon simple syrup
1 oz Lime juice
Combine the vodka, simple syrup and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour vodka mixture into two ice filled mule mugs. Top each glass with 1 oz of ginger beer. Garnish with watermelon wedges and mint sprigs and enjoy!
(on the rocks)
Servings: 2 margaritas
Watermelon Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1/2 cup Water
2 cups seedless Watermelon, cubed
4 oz Silver tequila
4 oz Watermelon juice
2 oz Lime juice
1 oz Watermelon simple syrup
Simple Syrup: Make the simple syrup by combining the watermelon and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Use a potato masher or another utensil to mash the watermelon and sugar together, pushing out the liquid and dissolving the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl or jar, pressing the watermelon to extract all the liquid. Set aside to cool completely. (Makes just over 1 cup of simple syrup)
Watermelon Juice: Next, make the watermelon juice by combining the watermelon and water in a blender. Blend until smooth, pour through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl or jar. Margaritas
To assemble the margaritas, use a lime wedge to line the rims of two glasses with juice. Dip the glasses in coarse salt and carefully fill the glasses with ice. Next, combine the tequila, watermelon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until thoroughly chilled, about 30 seconds, and pour into the prepared glasses. Garnish with lime wedges and serve!
Watermelon Mint Julep
Servings: 2 (with leftover syrup)
For the juice:
Fresh Mint Leaves
¼ cup Bourbon
2 Tbsps Club soda
2 Tbsps Mint simple syrup
½ cup Watermelon (to create ¼ cup fresh watermelon juice)
For the syrup:
¾ cup Granulated sugar
1 cup Water
Bunch Mint leaves
Add the watermelon to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through sieve to remove pulp. Make the syrup by adding the sugar, mint, and water to a saucepan and heating at medium high heat. Stir constantly. When it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 2 minutes. Allow to cool and remove the mint leaves. Combine the bourbon, watermelon juice, and 2 Tbsps mint syrup and shake. Add some roughly crushed ice to your glasses, pour the cocktail over it, and top with club soda.
Spiked Watermelon Balls
¼ small ripe Watermelon
1/3 cup Water
½ cup Rum
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed Lime juice
1 tsp Lime peel, grated
Bring the water to a boil. Stir in sugar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the rum and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool somewhat before adding the lime juice and the grated lime peel. Cut melons into balls with a melon baller. Pour the syrup over the fruit, mix gently, cover and chill for several hours before serving.
30 Mint leaves
1 large Lime (the juice and some pulp is needed)
2 Tbsps Sugar
1/2 cup liquefied fresh Watermelon
2 cups Ice
Mint leaves, for serving
4 oz White rum
Small slices of Watermelon, for serving
1/2 cup Club soda serving diced watermelon (optional)
Place mint leaves, the lime juice and pulp, and the sugar in a medium pitcher. Use a muddler to crush the mint and blend the juice and sugar. Add the ice, rum, watermelon juice, and club soda. Stir, taste, and add more sugar or lime to taste. Add a few diced watermelon if desired and garnish each glass with mint and a thin slice of watermelon.
Layered Watermelon Popsicles
3½ cups Watermelon, cubed
5½ Tbsps Sugar, divided
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
½ cup canned Coconut milk, well shaken
6 medium Kiwi fruits
1 Tbsp mini Chocolate chips Instructions
Add watermelon, 2 Tbsps of sugar and lemon juice to a blender and blend until well pureed. Skim off foam and carefully pour into up to 10 popsicle molds filling to about ⅔ full. Cover with the lid and insert the popsicle sticks and freeze for 3 hours. Watermelon juice separates naturally so stir it gently every 30 minutes. Once the juice is slushed, sprinkle chocolate chips over the tops and push gently down to immerse, keeping some touching the insides of the molds.
After three hours, whisk coconut milk, 1 ½ Tbsps of sugar until sugar is dissolved and chill 30 minutes. You want a nice pourable consistency after chilling, not too thick. If it thickens too much stir in 1-2 Tbsps of cold water to thin. Remove popsicles from freezer and pour about a Tbsp of coconut milk into an even layer over the watermelon layer. Return to freezer, uncovered, and chill for at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the kiwis (or cut tops and scoop out flesh) and transfer the fruit to the blender along with 2 Tbsps of sugar. Pulse until pureed. Pour through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and chill the puree for 30 minutes. Take popsicles from freezer and top each with kiwi mixture, about a Tbsp each. Return to freezer and chill until popsicles are fully solid, about 2-3 hours. To remove popsicles from molds, turn tray to the side and run plastic molds under warm water several seconds without letting water touch the kiwi at the top. Then slowly pull from molds.
Blended Burger with Grilled Watermelon
1 lb. Lean ground beef
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Garlic salt
4 slices Cheddar or Havarti cheese
1 tsp Smoked paprika
½ tsp Black pepper
Fresh basil leaves (optional)
Baby arugula (optional)
4 Hamburger buns
⅓ cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices of Watermelon, sliced ½-inch thick, rind removed
4 oz Mushrooms, sliced (any variety works—a mix creates a nice flavor!)
Begin by placing the mushrooms in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, transfer to a medium bowl, and add the ground beef, balsamic, garlic salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Mix well using your hands. Divide the mixture into about 6 regular sized patties or 8 slider sized patties. Brush the watermelon slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill the burgers over medium-high heat until desired doneness. Grill your burger buns for a moment or two, if desired. Last, grill the watermelon slices for 2 minutes per side, watching closely so they don’t burn. Mix together the mayonnaise, balsamic, dijon, salt and pepper until smooth. Assemble the burgers, topping with the patties with the watermelon first, followed by fresh basil and arugula, then topping with a mayo slathered bun.
Grilled Spicy Watermelon
1 watermelon, medium sized,
cut into 1-inch thick wedges
1 Tbsp lime zest
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup honey
2 tsps garlic chili sauce
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Pinch of salt, to taste
Preheat grill to high. In a bowl, whisk together the lime zest and juice, 3 Tbsps of the honey, garlic chili sauce and salt. Lightly drizzle the watermelon wedges on each side with remaining honey and place on grill. Grill until just browned, about 2 minutes per side. You want to get the char marks visible. Place watermelon slices on a plate and drizzle with lime dressing. Garnish with cilantro.
A Sweeter Twist: Grilled Watermelon and Pineapple Skewers
12 1” x 1” fresh watermelon chunks
1 Tbsp cinnamon sugar
12 1” x 1” fresh pineapple chunks
½ cup unrefined granulated sugar
1 cup warm fudge sauce of choice
Alternate 3 of each cube of watermelon and pineapple on skewers and sprinkle the fruit skewers with the unrefined sugar and cinnamon sugar. Grill over medium hot coals on all for sides about 30 seconds per side. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with warm fudge sauce.
For the Fruit Topping:
2 cups cubed watermelon, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup strawberries, hulled, quartered
For the Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 Tbsp and 2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups and 2 Tbsps heavy cream
For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsps sugar Instructions
In a food processor, combine 1 cup of the watermelon and sugar. Pulse until smooth and transfer to a large bowl. Add the quartered strawberries and remaining 1 cup cubed watermelon, toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Preheat the oven to 425° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 Tbsp of the sugar together. Add 11/2 cups of the cream and stir just until the dough comes together. (It will be ragged at first but will smooth out as the dough is kneaded.) Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until the dough is mostly smooth. Pat into a 3/4-inch-thick round. Using a circular biscuit cutter or pairing knife cut out 3 or 4 rounds in 3-4 inch circles and place them on your prepared baking sheet. Bring the scraps together and pat out to make more biscuits. Repeat until all the dough is used. You should end up with 6 biscuits. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the reserved heavy cream and sprinkle with the reserved sugar. Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
While the biscuits bake, make the whipped cream. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the whipping cream and vanilla. Beat at medium high speed until soft peaks form, then, with the mixer running, slowly add the sugar until the soft peaks become slightly firmer. To assemble the shortcakes, cut the biscuits in half. Place the bottom half on a plate and top it with whipped cream, followed by a spoonful of the strawberry-watermelon mixture. Cover with the top half of the biscuit and top with one last scoop of cream and strawberry-watermelon mixture. Serve immediately.