8 Ways to Eat Watermelon

timsackton/CC BY 2.0

Watermelon, it's not just for picnics anymore. The big watery lugs are showing up everywhere in a variety of surprising guises, from sweet delicate soups to assertive sorbets. And not that we needed more reasons to love them, but the recent news that watermelon contains higher levels of the important antioxidant, lycopene, than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, certainly hasn't hurt. They are also notably abundant in potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. And delicious.

Since there's no better time to indulge in their versatile loveliness than the dog days of summer, here are some new ways to put your watermelon to good use.

1. Agua Fresca

Aside from simply slurping up a slice of the fruit, this is one of the easiest ways to enjoy watermelon, the Mexican preparation of agua fresca, which is basically watermelonade.

  • 6 to 8 pounds watermelon, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • Lime and mint for garnish (if you like)

Blend half the watermelon pieces with 1 cup of water in a blender until smooth. Strain into a pitcher. Repeat with the rest of the melon and water. Mix in lime juice and agave. Pour over ice and garnish with lime and mint.

2. Watermelon and Cilantro Sorbet

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Jerry's recipe for Watermelon and Cilantro Sorbet is remarkably simple, doesn't require any special ice-cream making equipment, and makes just-right ending for a summer dinner.

3. Smoothies

There are as many ways to make a watermelon smoothie as there are Eskimo words for snow. (Although I understand that is a linguistic misconception, it's so poetic that I'm going to stick with it.) Here is the very most basic recipe, but to this you can add just about anything sweet and fruity. Try bananas, yogurt, peaches, strawberries, mango, you get the picture. A particularly good mix is half watermelon, half cantaloupe, vanilla yogurt and a bunch of lime juice.

  • 4 cups seeded cold watermelon
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • a small handful of ice cubes

Mix in a blender and serve.

4. Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Grilled watermelon, what?! It's true. Just like other non-conventional grilling fruits take so beautifully to the barbecue (avocados! strawberries!), so does watermelon -- as you will see if you make Kelly's Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad.

5. Sangria

This is like putting agua fresca in a sassy print dress for a summer cocktail party. You can play around with the ingredients and add any other fruit you may have lazing in the fridge.

  • 2 pounds watermelon, cubed
  • 750 ml bottle of white wine
  • 6 ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces Cointreau
  • 4 ounces mixed lemon and lime juice
  • Honey or agave to sweeten to taste
  • Extra fruit for soaking, like strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, raspberries, etc. Basil and mint are a nice garnish too.

Mix together and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour to let flavors meld. Serve over ice garnished with fruit.

6. Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho

© Jaymi Heimbuch

This recipe for Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho combines the sweetness of watermelon with tomato, cucumber, serrano chili to great effect. Bright and refreshing and kind of perfect.

7. Watermelon Gimlets

Watermelon and booze are a match made in cocktail heaven. Watermelon is heavenly sweet without being cloying and plays well with all types: Vodka, rum, tequila, and cachaca, to name a few. Here's how to make a very basic sweet and tangy vodka gimlet, but it's hard to go wrong with other concoctions. Add mint, use chili-infused alcohol, splash some orange juice in there, let your inner mixologist run wild.

  • 4 ounces watermelon juice (pureed and strained)
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • splash of Cointreau (or more if you prefer sweeter)

Add ingredients to ice in a shaker, shake until very cold, strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with

8. Pickled Rinds

It doesn't get more southern granny than this, and that's a grand thing. Any recipe that uses kitchen bits that otherwise end up in the trash gets my whole-hearted endorsement. The Bitten Word played around with pickling recipes and came up with an adaptation for Pickled Watermelon Rinds that, although time-intensive, is easy to follow and avoids some of the obscure canning vocabulary that has novice canners running for the hills. And best of all, pickled rinds will extend your watermelon eating into the cooler months, making the wait until next watermelon season a little more bearable...

Tags: Cooking | Fruits & Vegetables | Recipes | Summer | Vegan | Vegetarian