Sweet and juicy, watermelon is an iconic summer treat that's also healthful. A two-cup serving contains 80 calories, no fat, and nutrients such as potassium and vitamins A, B6, and C. Watermelon also contains lycopene, a plant chemical shown to help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration (age-related vision loss). In peak season, from May to August, supply is plentiful and prices are low. Here are cheap and easy ways to enjoy this healthy, tasty summer fruit.
To savor watermelon slices with less mess, cut into triangle wedges and insert Popsicle sticks into the rind. Freeze for a few minutes and take outside for a refreshing and healthy sweet on a hot summer day. Save the seeds for a good old-fashioned watermelon-seed-spitting contest.
To add a gourmet twist to a summer meal, create skewers that incorporate watermelon. Combine the fruit with tomatoes, mint leaves, and feta cheese or blueberries, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Be sure to cut chunks large enough to be pushed onto skewers without falling apart. Add a sauce for dipping, such as vanilla yogurt for fruit skewers or balsamic dressing for cheese and vegetable skewers.
Watermelon chunks, sugar, water, and lime juice are all that's needed to make a sweet watermelon treat from Southern Living. Start by dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 3 cups of boiling water. After the mixture thickens, let cool and combine with watermelon chunks in a blender. Stir in a quarter-cup of lime juice and freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker.
Watermelon is a versatile addition to all kinds of salads. To make an impressive fruit salad for a party, hollow out a watermelon and carve the edges of the rind into a zigzag pattern. Fill with different types of melon, or mix watermelon with strawberries and blueberries. For a twist, combine watermelon, honeydew melon, plum slices, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette according to a recipe from Southern Living.
Perhaps surprisingly, watermelon and tomatoes go well together, and there are many, many variations on watermelon salsa. For a tomato-free version, try an Eating Well recipe that combines watermelon, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeño peppers into a sweet salsa for chicken, pork, or tortilla chips.
When firing up the grill, toss on a few pieces of watermelon that have been coated thinly with olive oil. The smoky flavor from grilling mixes well with the enhanced sweetness teased out by the heat, resulting in a tasty side dish to accompany almost any grilled meat.
After eating the delicious red pulp, many watermelon lovers toss the rind. Rather than waste it, try making rind candy. Water, salt, cider vinegar, cloves, and cinnamon go into a version posted on Allrecipes.
Watermelon rind is similar in texture to cucumber and has a similarly neutral flavor, so it can be used as a substitute for cucumbers or alongside them in summer dishes. A New York Times gazpacho recipe calls for watermelon rind.
Gourmet magazine uses watermelon rind in a chutney recipe that's a bit more involved. Preparation takes about an hour, and after the ingredients are combined, the mixture has to sit for one to three days while the flavors "mellow." Stored in the refrigerator, the chutney keeps for about a month and complements grilled fish or chicken perfectly.