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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Best of Summer: Delicious and Frugal Watermelon Recipes

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

You plant a few watermelon seeds, and before you know it, you have enough watermelons to feed a small nation. Or, your supermarket has an incredible sale on watermelons in July, and you buy THREE.

Beautiful watermelon wedges... the best of summer | Photo credit: USDA
Beautiful watermelon wedges... the best of summer | Photo credit: USDA

We've all been there... seduced by juicy, sweet watermelons, but just can't eat it all in time. After a few weeks, your poor, glorious watermelons have disintegrated into watery mush, and throwing them out without having been enjoyed is disheartening and money-wasteful, no longer that frugal summer bargain.

Slicing watermelons into beautiful, stand-alone crimson wedges the first time or two at the beginning of their summer season excites the senses — ho-hum by the third or fourth time. I've known people who go overboard on buying watermelons because of their "fun" reputation, so they have no qualms about tossing overripe melons out as waste when they're past their prime (it's mostly water and sugar, right?).

And yet, surprisingly, despite its juicy yumminess and association with summer pool parties and barbecues, watermelon is a serious food... amazingly healthful.

Nutrition and medical experts have discovered that watermelon is packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature. It's an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of vitamin A — notably through its concentration of beta-carotene. These powerful antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing free radicals. On top of that, watermelon is also a concentrated source of the carotenoid lycopene. Recent nutrition research shows that watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, even tomatoes. Lycopene has been cited to lower the risk of many different kinds of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lungs, and stomach.

What many people don't realize is that the inner rind of the watermelon, which is usually a light green or white color, is edible. This inner rind contains many hidden nutrients that most people avoid eating due to its unique flavor. Data are also suggestive of another watermelon benefit for helping to prevent cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast, and cervix. Watermelon is also chockful of vitamin B6, vitamin B1, potassium, and magnesium. Watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight.

So, wasting watermelon is simply not an option in my book.

Here are a few creative ideas to use watermelon differently — delicious and frugal watermelon recipes to keep everyone interested in eating them. The different flavors mesh well with watermelon, as do the different textures. These unusual, refreshing watermelon recipes are a hit with kids and adults alike.

 

Chef foods divider

 

Watermelon Recipe Directory

Minted Watermelon Soup
Refreshing Watermelon Gazpacho
Minty Watermelon Salad
Watermelon Popsicles
Giada De Laurentiis's Watermelon with Watercress and Feta
Watermelon and Feta Salad, Grilled Chicken Breasts with Watermelon Salsa, Watermelon Italian Ice (video)
Watermelon Chiffon Pie
Watermelon Juice
Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie
Spicy Watermelon & Corn Salsa
Watermelon Basket Centerpiece (video)


Minted Watermelon Soup

Pureé the watermelon in a food processor fitted with a steel chopping blade or pass it through a food mill. This should be done in batches.

Transfer the pureé to a large bowl and stir in the buttermilk and chopped mint. Refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours.

Pour the soup into the melon tureen, if desired. The soup can also be served in chilled bowls with a couple of tiny pieces of melon in the center and a mint leaf along side.

Serves 4 - 6.

Back to Watermelon Recipe directory

 

 

Refreshing Watermelon Gazpacho

Seed watermelon, cut into chunks and pureé in food processor until smooth. Discard rind.

Finely chop onion, red pepper, and jalapeño pepper.

Peel and seed cucumber, chop into cubes. In large bowl, combine watermelon and all vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Chill 2 hours, serve.

Serves 4 - 6.

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Minty Watermelon Salad | Photo credit: TRY-FOODS INTERNATIONAL
Minty Watermelon Salad | Photo credit: TRY-FOODS INTERNATIONAL

Minty Watermelon Salad

Minty syrup:

 

Fruit salad:

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, mint, and ginger. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Set aside to cool.

Place watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes in a large bowl. Add syrup mixture and toss gently, but thoroughly to coat.

Top with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Serves 8.

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Watermelon Popsicles

Super-easy and super-refreshing watermelon popsicles, sure to be a hit with the kids during the summer months — this how-to is from a New York Times recipe. Cut about 1 pound of watermelon into small chunks (discard the rind). Put the chunks into a blender with 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice. Process until smooth, adding enough water (or fruit juice) so that the mixture liquefies.

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds, and freeze. That's it!

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Giada De Laurentiis's Watermelon with Watercress and Feta

Ah, so fresh and summery, a perfect salad lunch while spending a relaxing afternoon out by the pool by yourself, or on the veranda with family, or served to guests for brunch on the terrace. Popular Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis created this fabulously easy, lo-cal recipe mixing watermelon with watercress and feta cheese.

In a salad bowl, combine the watermelon, feta cheese, watercress, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Gently toss until all the ingredients are combined. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Watermelon and Feta Salad, Grilled Chicken Breasts with Watermelon Salsa, Watermelon Italian Ice

Video Demo: Watermelon Trio — Hot Chef, Cool Meal... Cooking with Melon

In the June 2010 video below, Chef John Delucie of "The Lion" in New York City showed CBS Early Show's Chris Wragge three quick and easy ways to use watermelon in summer dishes.

CBS Early Show: Cooking with Watermelon

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Slice of watermelon chiffon pie | Photo credit: Felicity Shoulders, Flickr.com
Slice of watermelon chiffon pie | Photo credit: Felicity Shoulders, Flickr.com

Watermelon Chiffon Pie

Filling:

 

Graham cracker crust:

 

Thoroughly mix crust ingredients and pack into a 10-inch pie pan. Hint: try to get the crust thickness very even and not too thick.

Pureé watermelon to measure 2 cups. Add powdered sugar. Set aside.

Soften unflavored gelatin in cold water. Add boiling water; stir to dissolve. Add lemon juice and pureéd watermelon.

Refrigerate until mixture begins to thicken. Fold in egg whites and whipped topping. Pour into pie shell and refrigerate until firm. Garnish with whipped topping.

Makes one 10-inch or two 8-inch pies.

Back to Watermelon Recipe directory

 

Watermelons at market | Photo credit: h-bomb, Flickr.com
Watermelons at market | Photo credit: h-bomb, Flickr.com

 

Watermelon Juice

Refreshing and easy-to-make watermelon juice | Photo credit: Quick and Easy Recipes website
Refreshing and easy-to-make watermelon juice | Photo credit: Quick and Easy Recipes website

In a mixer jar, add peeled and deseeded watermelon pieces, powdered sugar, pepper powder, and salt.

Grind all the above ingredients until you achieve a nicely blended liquid.

Transfer to a glass and top with ice cubes. Serve watermelon juice chilled.

Powdered sugar should be added only if the watermelon is not sweet enough for you. If needed, you can filter the watermelon juice, but watermelon juice gives good taste without filtering.

Serves 1 - 2.

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Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie

Place the watermelon, strawberries, and ice in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds, or until ice is completely broken up.

Serve immediately in a tall glass.

Serves 1 - 2.

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Spicy Watermelon & Corn Salsa

This is a refreshing, unusual way to serve watermelon. Excellent choice to serve at BBQs, pool parties, and while watching sports on TV. A recipe summary, from About.com/Gourmet Foods:

Definitely not your average salsa, this wonderful watermelon and corn salsa stands apart from the tomato variety. A little spicy, a little sweet, this salsa works great as an appetizer served with corn chips. It can also be used as a condiment for tacos, burritos, or even a turkey burger!

 

Place the watermelon, corn, and chiles in a medium bowl.

Mix together the lime juice, brown sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the watermelon mixture.

Gently toss until everything is coated with the liquid.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to meld.

Serve with corn chips or as a condiment for tacos, burritos, turkey burgers, etc.

If a milder chile, with a bit less heat is desired, Hatch or Anaheim can be substituted.

Back to Watermelon Recipe directory

 

 

Watermelon Basket Centerpiece

In the following video, Jawara Kashka demonstrates how to create a beautiful, easy watermelon basket centerpiece to hold fruit.

How to Make a Watermelon Basket

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Related Reading and Recipes:
Celebrity Recipes: Jacques Pépin's Berry Potpourri
Celebrity Recipes: Paula Deen's Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler
Celebrity Recipes: Oprah Winfrey's Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Fab Food Friday Fotos and Recipes: Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts, Asian Meatballs, Chocolate Cheesecake, Oxtail Suet Pudding, Marmalade Chicken, Pumpkin Risotto, Gluten-Free Leek & Potato Soup, Warm Spinach Mushroom Salad, More Frugal Recipes
Baby, It's Cold Inside: Freezer Tips for Stockpiling Your Food Bounty
Celebrity Recipes: Martina McBride's Tortilla Soup
Celebrity Recipes: Giada De Laurentiis's Homemade Italian Sauce
Celebrity Recipes: Tim McGraw's Favorite Chicken and Dumplings
Celebrity Recipes: William Shatner's Carrot Vichyssoise
Celebrity Recipes: Maya Angelou's Groundnut Stew
Celebrity Recipes: Trisha Yearwood's Warm Feta Dip with Artichokes
Celebrity Recipes: Paula Deen's Grape-Nuts Pudding
Frugal Versions of Famous Soups: Ronald Reagan's Hamburger Soup, Soup Nazi's Cream of Sweet Potato Soup, and More
Frugal & Unique Valentine's Day and Mother's Day Gifts & Decor for the Shoestring Budget
Drying Your Own Fresh Herbs: Cost-Cutting and Convenient
Save Money, Cut It Yourself: How to Properly Cut a Whole Chicken into Pieces
Piece of Cake: Cake Baking Tips & Fabulous 1930 Layered Chocolate Cake with Fruit Filling Recipe

 

 

Sources:
A 2 Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness website, "Watermelon Nutrition Facts," (http://health.learninginfo.org/nutrition-facts/watermelon.htm).
About.com/Gourmet Foods, Watermelon recipes, (http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/appetizersandsoups1/r/wtrmelonsalsa.htm).
> Epicurean.com, "Watermelon Chiffon Pie," (http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/1118/watermelon-chiffon-pie.html).
Food Network website, "Watermelon with Watercress and Feta," (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/watermelon-with-watercress-and-feta-recipe/index.html).
Just Fruit recipes, "Watermelon," (http://www.justfruitrecipes.com/).
Notecook, "Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie," (http://notecook.com/drinks/strawberry-watermelon-smoothie/).
Quick and Easy Recipes, "Watermelon Juice," (http://www.quick-n-easyrecipes.com/watermelon-juice/).
TRY-FOODS International, Vendor recipe cards, Apopka, FL.
Wikipedia, "Watermelon," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon).