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Sweet And Savory Watermelon

A big slice of juicy sweet watermelon is a great way to wrap up a Fourth of July cookout. But Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst has been experimenting with other uses for the summertime staple and has discovered how well watermelon goes with savory foods. She shares these five recipes:


Kathy also weighs in on the social media furor over The New York Times’ suggestion to add peas to guacamole.

See more recipes and cooking segments with Kathy Gunst

Grilled Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

(View/print a PDF of all five recipes)

Kathy’s Note: A whole thick slice of watermelon is grilled and then topped with feta cheese and fresh mint and olive oil and wine vinegar. The melon can be cut like pizza into slices.

Serves 2 to 4.

Ingredients:

1 large slice watermelon, about 1 inch thick

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1/2 cup feta cheese, cut into small squares

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Instructions:

Heat grill to hot. Place melon on tray and brush with half tablespoon of the olive oil. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip, brush with another half tablespoon oil and grill another 2 minutes.

Place on large plate. Scatter the feta and mint on top and drizzle on the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Everyone cuts off their own slice.

Watermelon, Crab and Arugula Salad

Kathy’s Note: The sweet juiciness of watermelon is delicious in a salad with sharp greens like arugula. Add sweet fresh crabmeat, lightly tossed with a chive vinaigrette, and you have a main course salad. Of course you can always omit the crab and you’ll still have a delicious salad.

Serves 2 to 4.

Ingredients:

The Vinaigrette:

1/2 teaspoon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

The Salad:

1 cup arugula

1 cup pea shoots or micro greens

1 cup watermelon flesh cut off rind and cut into 1 inch long pieces

1 pound fresh crabmeat

1 tablespoon fresh chives minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl whisk together the mustard, salt, pepper, chives and lemon juice. Add the vinegar and then the oil and taste for seasoning.

Make the salad: Arrange the arugula and pea shoots on a large plate. Place the watermelon in a circle on the inside.

Place the crab in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss gently. Mound the crabmeat in the center of the plate. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the watermelon and crab. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the greens and watermelon or serve on the side.

Watermelon and Roasted Cherry Salsa

Kathy’s Note: A fruity salsa that is ideal to serve with grilled fish, seafood, chicken, or kebobs. The salsa is also excellent with corn chips, particularly blue corn chips. Don’t make more than an hour or so before serving.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted cherries (cut in half and remove pit)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups watermelon cut into chunks

1 cup ripe tomatoes, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup sweet green pepper, cut into small pieces

Dash hot pepper sauce, like Sriracha or Tabasco, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cherries with olive oil in a small ovenproof skillet or roasting pan. Roast on the middle shelf for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

In a bowl gently toss the watermelon, roasted cherries, tomatoes, pepper, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Kathy’s Note: You buy a big beautiful watermelon. You eat all the sweet flesh and then you’re getting ready to throw away the rind. STOP! Keep the rind to make these delicious pickles. They take about 20 minutes to make and will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks. Serve with cheese platters, grilled ribs, burgers, chicken or seafood. They are particularly good served with rich foods as they are light, fruity and refreshing.

Instructions:

4 cups watermelon rind

2/3 cup sugar

2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 pieces

2 tablespoons Kosher salt or canning salt

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 dried Serrano chile, crumbled with or without seeds, depending if you like your pickles with a little spice or not

1 cinnamon stick, cut in half lengthwise

1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups cold water

Instructions:

Cut the dark green exterior of the rind off and then cut the pale white pieces into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place the rind in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place a small plate on top of the rind to keep it submerged in the pickling liquid in the pot; let cool one hour.

Place the rind and all the pickling liquid and spices into a large canning jar(s) and seal. Place in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or so. Serve cold.

Watermelon Juice

This is so easy and has so many possibilities. You can drink the juice as is. You can add it to lemon or limeade. You can freeze it in a Popsicle mold (with touch of lemon juice) or make drinks adding rum, vodka, tequila and seltzer.

Cut a large wedge of watermelon so you have 4 cups watermelon chunks. Place in a blender. Puree the watermelon using the on and off button and using a soft spatula to move chunks down into the blades. Strain through a fine sieve. Place in a glass jar and seal tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Guest

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Kathy's Grilled Watermelon Feta and Mint Salad can be cut like a pizza into slices. (Kathy Gunst)
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Kathy's Grilled Watermelon Feta and Mint Salad can be cut like a pizza into slices. (Kathy Gunst)
Kathy's Watermelon, Crab and Arugula Salad can be served as a main course. (Kathy Gunst)
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Kathy's Watermelon, Crab and Arugula Salad can be served as a main course. (Kathy Gunst)
The ingredients for Kathy's Watermelon and Roasted Cherry Salsa. (Kathy Gunst)
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The ingredients for Kathy's Watermelon and Roasted Cherry Salsa. (Kathy Gunst)
This fruity salsa pairs well with chips or grilled meat. (Kathy Gunst)
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This fruity salsa pairs well with chips or grilled meat. (Kathy Gunst)
Brush watermelon with olive oil before grilling. (Kathy Gunst)
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Brush watermelon with olive oil before grilling. (Kathy Gunst)
Don't throw away those watermelon rinds! Pickle them instead. (grongar/Flickr)
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Don't throw away those watermelon rinds! Pickle them instead. (grongar/Flickr)
Watermelon juice can be drunk as-is or added to lemon or limeade. (Kathy Gunst)
/
Watermelon juice can be drunk as-is or added to lemon or limeade. (Kathy Gunst)
Puree the watermelon using the on and off button, and using a soft spatula to move the chunks down. (Kathy Gunst)
/
Puree the watermelon using the on and off button, and using a soft spatula to move the chunks down. (Kathy Gunst)