While cold slices of watermelon conjure childhood memories of summer, this
sticky, sweet fruit is capable of so much more, taking its rightful place among
Over the past few years, seedless varieties have become commonplace. Hard
“spit-out” seeds have disappeared in these varieties, replaced with seeds that
aren’t developed. The lack of seeds in a watermelon makes the flesh firmer and
helps it to stay fresh longer, whether whole or cut and refrigerated.
Mini-melons (sometimes labeled “baby” by other produce companies) average
about 5 pounds, and a hungry watermelon devotee might cut one in half and
devour an entire section.
And whether seedless melons are large or small, chefs have taken a fancy to them.
More restaurant menus feature them in everything from soup to salad, beverages
Some chefs like to take advantage of watermelon’s luscious flavor by grilling, which
creates caramelization on the melon’s exterior and a subtle smokiness. The warm
melon is delicious served with grilled fish, chicken or tofu. Or make it seem like a
salad by topping the warm melon with crumbled feta, baby arugula and chopped
And included here is “Iron Chef” Cat Cora’s delicious Watermelon Gazpacho, a
recipe that balances watermelon’s sweetness with the gentle stab of heat from fresh
chilies. Rather than a tomato base, this gazpacho uses pureed watermelon. The
purée is augmented with more traditional gazpacho ingredients such as cucumber,
bell pepper and celery.
This cold and colorful soup makes a great warm-weather starter. It can be prepared
four hours in advance and refrigerated.
GRILLED WATERMELON SLABS WITH BASIL-MINT OIL
Yield: 8 servings
1 large ripe watermelon, seedless preferred
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint plus thinly sliced mint for garnish
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
Vegetable oil for brushing on grate
Cut two 1 1/2-inch thick crosswise slices from middle portion of watermelon. Cut
each slice into quarters. Marinate quarters in vinegar for 2 hours, turning after
For basil-mint oil: Purée basil, 3 tablespoons mint and garlic in a blender. With
machine running, add 1/2 cup oil. Set a strainer over a small bowl; strain, pressing
on solids with the back of a spoon. Discard solids. Season strained oil with salt and
pepper. If available, place in squeeze bottle.
Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Sprinkle one
side of watermelon quarters with sugar. Brush clean heated grill grates with
vegetable oil. Place watermelon sugared side down on grill. Grill about 3 minutes;
melon should have grill marks and become caramelized. Turn and grill opposite
sides for 30 seconds.
Place on large platter, turning so the sides with the grill marks are facing up. Drizzle
watermelon with half of basil-mint oil. Leftover oil can be refrigerated and used in
salads, or atop grilled meat or fish.
Nutrition information (per serving, figuring only a portion of the basil-mint oil is
used): 100 calories (28 percent from fat), 3.1 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 3 mg
cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 221 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
WATERMELON AND CUCUMBER GAZPACHO
Yield: 4 large servings, or 8 smaller appetizer servings
5 cups seedless watermelon chunks, divided use
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, finely diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, finely diced
1 small jalapeño chili, seeded, minced; see cook’s notes
3 pale green inner celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Garnish: sour cream
Optional garnish: fresh mint sprigs
Cook’s notes: Use caution when working with fresh chilies; wash hands and work
surface thoroughly upon completion and do NOT touch eyes or face. If you prefer
a milder version, use 1/2 of the chili instead of the whole amount called for in the
Procedure: Place 4 cups watermelon chunks in blender; process until smooth.
Transfer to large glass or ceramic bowl. Finely dice remaining 1 cup watermelon
and add to purée. Add remaining ingredients except garnish. Stir to combine.
Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
Divide between 4 soup bowls for larger servings, or 8 small glasses for smaller
servings. Garnish each with dollop of sour cream, and if desired, either a small
sprig of mint or a mint leaf.
Nutritional information (per small serving without garnish): Calories 180
(less than 2 percent from fat), protein 4 g, carbohydrates 41.7 g, fat 1g (saturated
0.1 g), cholesterol 2 mg, sodium 65 mg, fiber 3.2 g
Source: Bon Appétit magazine and chef/author Cat Cora; Cathy Thomas of Freedom