5 Recipes That Use Watermelon to Make Savory Dinner Dishes

Americans might be partial to apples and bananas, which explains that childhood tune, but we still manage to put away more than 15 pounds of watermelon per person every year. We can probably thank sweltering summers for much of that, because the water-packed fruit is one of the most delicious ways to cool off on a hot day. It’s great as a stand-alone snack and worked into summer desserts, but the fruit also goes well with some saltier flavors. Try these five recipes to see what you’ve been missing.

1. Watermelon Burgers with Cheese

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Turning a slice of juicy melon into a burger is a lot less crazy than it sounds. Grilling the fruit helps it lose some of the sogginess and deepens the flavor, making it a great canvas for toppings like cheese, tomatoes, and onions. Try it for yourself by making The New York Times’ easy recipe. Since you’re really just looking to get some marks on the melon, this dish comes together in a fraction of the time it takes to grill regular patties. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be able to whip out sandwiches at lightning speed without worrying about meeting different requests for doneness. It’s a recipe for success.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small watermelon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
  • Hamburger buns
  • Toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, and sliced onion

Directions: Heat grill to moderately high heat and set rack about 4 inches above the flame. Cut watermelon in half lengthwise. From each length, cut 1½-inch-thick slices, and remove rind. Remove seeds with a fork, being careful not to damage flesh too much.

Mix olive oil with onion, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush mixture over watermelon. Grill about 5 minutes per side. Flesh should caramelize and dry out a bit. Top with cheese, cover, and cook just until cheese melts.

Serve on buns with toppings.

2. Watermelon Gazpacho

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Aside from some upscale restaurant menus, cold soups don’t make much of an appearance in the dining world. There might be a gazpacho here or there, maybe a chilled corn concoction, but that’s about it. Take matters into your own hands with Tyler Florence’s Watermelon Gazpacho, which he shared with Food Network. It has the same burst of acid and freshness as the classic, but features a hint of sweetness from fruit.

This recipe is remarkably fast, so you can make it and eat it right away. Our preference? Blend the soup a few hours ahead of time, and let it hang out in the fridge. It’ll be even more refreshing, and allows the flavors more of a chance to blend. Be sure to taste before you serve, because you’ll likely need to adjust the seasoning after chilling

Ingredients:

  • 1 large tomato, puréed
  • ½ serrano chile
  • 2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • ½ cucumber, seeded, and minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions: In a blender, purée tomato, chile, and half of watermelon. Add vinegar and olive oil, and pulse to combine. Add onion, cucumber, and 2 tablespoons dill, and season with salt and pepper. Blend until combined and smooth. Pour into chilled bowls. Top with additional dill, feta, and remaining watermelon. Serve.

3. Kung Pao Shrimp

Cooking shrimp

Source: iStock

Some stir-frys call for pineapple, so it’s a nice change to opt for watermelon instead. This recipe from the National Watermelon Promotion Board uses shrimp and bottled kung pao sauce, so you can have a meal in minutes. Just sauté some garlic, add the shrimp, then toss in some peanuts and the sauce. Stir in the watermelon at the end, and it’s time to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, and deveined
  • 1 cup dry roasted and salted peanuts
  • 1 cup kung pao sauce
  • 2 cups chopped watermelon

Directions: Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Sauté garlic 30 seconds, then add shrimp. Sauté until shrimp are nearly cooked. Add peanuts, and cook 30 seconds longer. Reduce heat to low, and add sauce. Simmer just to let shrimp finish cooking. Remove from heat, and stir in watermelon. Serve at once.

4. Grilled Watermelon with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

prosciutto, meat

Source: iStock

Somewhere between a salad and a cheese course, this grilled watermelon dish from Southern Living is perfect to make for yourself or a crowd. It packs a serious flavor punch with sweet fruit, tangy balsamic, salty blue cheese, and savory prosciutto. The flavor combination is pretty phenomenal, but you mix and match different ingredients. Try goat cheese or thinly sliced salami.

This dish calls for bottled balsamic glaze, which you often find in the regular grocery store. They can be a little pricey, though. Make your own by simmering your regular balsamic vinegar on the stove until it gets syrupy, and let it cool.

Ingredients:

  • 3 (½-inch-thick) watermelon rounds, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons bottled balsamic glaze

Directions: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of each watermelon quarter with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cut prosciutto into thin strips.

Grill watermelon, uncovered, 1 minute on each side, or until grill marks appear.

Transfer to a plate, and top with cheese, prosciutto strips, and basil leaves. Drizzle with glaze, and serve.

5. Grilled Pork Chops with Two-Melon Salsa

melon salsa

Source: iStock

Pork is a rock-star protein thanks to its ability to pair well with just about any ingredient. It particularly shines with fruits like pineapple and apricot. Try something a little bit different by making these chops with melon salsa from Cooking Light. Watermelon and honeydew give the topping a double dose of fruit, and jalapeño adds a satisfying bit of kick.

Start by tossing together the salsa so the flavors have a chance to meld. Then, move on to creating a spice paste for the pork. Slather the mixture on the meat, then toss it on the grill. Char some sliced baguette, and you have a complete meal.

Ingredients:

Salsa

  • 1 cup chopped seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup chopped honeydew
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Pork

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork chops, trimmed
  • Cooking spray

Directions: Combine all salsa ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss, and set aside.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat, and grease grates with cooking spray. Combine oil, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture over both sides of each pork chop. Cook pork 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your preference. Serve with salsa.

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