Watermelon has helped millions of children (and adults!) participate in seed-spitting contests for generations. There’s no denying the entertainment value of a slice of watermelon—or the refreshment factor. Since it’s 92 percent water, it can also help you stay hydrated. But this cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash can go way beyond a basic slice so you can mix it up with both savory appetizers or salads and sweet desserts. Or, if you have leftovers from a get-together, using it in recipes is a great way to make the most of it.
It’s also good for you. Watermelon has only 40 calories per cup and is virtually fat and cholesterol free. It’s low in sodium; is a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C; and contains potassium, thiamin, and magnesium.
Make sure to wash before use: Always wash melons with cool tap water and dry before cutting in order to remove any surface dirt and impurities on the rind that could be transferred from the knife to the flesh when cut.
In these recipes, which are courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, you’ll find a variety of ways to switch it up that both kids and adults will enjoy throughout the summer.
Watermelon Pizza alla Italia
Makes 2 Servings
These mini pizzas are delicious served alone or as a dessert—the watermelon serves as the “crust”! Kids will love them. Why these fruits? Several fruits are popular in the area of Italy called Liguria, home of the Italian Riviera. This watermelon pizza celebrates those fruits, including oranges, pears, kiwi, and cherries. The strawberries are there to honor the Strawberry Tree, which is considered one of the national symbols of Italy. Of course, you are welcome to choose your own favorite fruits, too. Try a taste of an Italian summer. Buon appetito!
2 slices (1/2 inch thick each) of a miniature watermelon
¼ cup fat-free cream cheese
¼ cup orange-flavored low-fat Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons minced orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced thin
½ pear, peeled and diced
5 strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons dried tart cherries
- In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese, yogurt, 2 teaspoons of the orange peel, and vanilla. Refrigerate to allow mixture to thicken.
- Either top each pizza slice with the cream cheese mixture, followed by the fruit, then sprinkle the remaining orange peel over the top. Or, cut the watermelon into slices first, then continue with the cream cheese spread, fruit, and orange peel.
Avocado Toast with Watermelon
Makes 2 Servings
A little sweet crunch elevates this avocado toast for a delicious delight.
4 tablespoons mashed avocado
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
4 tablespoons diced watermelon
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon lemon zest
- Mix mashed avocado with lemon juice.
- Spread half the avocado mix on each slice of the toasted bread, top with half of the watermelon and cheese, then sprinkle with half of the mint leaves and lemon zest.
Watermelon Caprese Salad
Makes 12 Servings
Watermelon is a great substitute for tomatoes in this traditional Italian appetizer. Serve on a single dish for a simple, family-style appetizer.
12 slices watermelon cut into rounds or squares approximately 3 inches wide and ½ inch thick
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 12 slices
Dash salt and pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Basil, for garnish
- Place the watermelon slices on paper towels and cover with additional paper towels to absorb some of the excess fluid.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the vinegar and honey. Stir to blend, bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced by almost half. (Do not let reduce too far or to froth). Set aside to cool slightly.
- On a large platter, place the watermelon slices and top each with a slice of cheese. Salt and pepper, then sprinkle the basil leaves evenly over the top. Drizzle with the olive oil followed by the reduced balsamic vinegar. Garnish with basil.
Watermelon Vegetarian Bowl
Makes 4 Servings
Stick to a traditional plant-based bowl and amp up the protein by adding tofu or legumes. Those who aren’t vegetarian can add a chicken or fish—both taste delicious with sweet watermelon and tangy tahini dressing. This dish is both sweet and savory and can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
For the Bowl
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
4 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and halved
2 avocados, sliced
1 cup sliced, toasted almonds
2 cups cooked black rice
1 bottle citrusy tahini dressing (recipe below)
For the Dressing
3 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon salt
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk to combine. If the dressing seems thick, add a bit more orange juice or water until you reach the desired consistency.
- Arrange the bowls by placing the watermelon, cucumbers, cherries, avocados, and rice in four bowls. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and drizzle with the dressing. Serve immediately!
Spiked Watermelon Balls
Makes 10 servings
A refreshing treat for the grown-ups in the crowd.
¼ small ripe watermelon
1/3 cup water
½ cup rum
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
- 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.
Hungry for More?
No matter how you slice it—or purée it or dice it or juice it—watermelon is a tasty choice in recipes from appetizers and main dishes to dessert and cocktails.
Refreshing watermelon moves from appetizers to entrees and desserts with ease in more recipes here.