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Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Basil and Manchego (c)2012

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with watermelon during summer:

1.  Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Watermelon and tomato make for a shockingly good combination. Tomatoes have a meaty acidity that balances sweet and crisp slices of watermelon. I like to cut the watermelon into tomato-like shapes and toss it with yellow cherry tomatoes, red onions, and basil. Plenty of red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper balance the sweet and fruity flavors. Instead of the traditional feta, I switch it up with shavings of semi-soft, nutty sheep’s milk cheese- like Manchego.

2.  Pickled Watermelon and Watermelon Rind

David Chang is an advocate for pickling. In the Momofuku cookbook, he writes, Pickling is practical and doesn’t need to be complicated…Pickling can be as easy as making a brine, pouring it over chopped vegetables packed into a container, and waiting the right amount of time to eat them.” Chang includes recipes for both pickled watermelon rind and a quick pickle for the pink watermelon flesh. The pickles can be served on a pickle plate with other pickled veg or incorporated into a meal. At Momofuku, watermelon pickles are served with noodle bowls and braised meat, or in a frisée salad with bacon and a poached egg.

3.  Grilled Watermelon & Manouri

The photo of Michael Psilakis’ Grilled Watermelon & Manouri in How To Roast A Lamb is almost irresistible- thick slices of watermelon look steak-like topped with melted and caramelized manouri cheese. Manouri is a semisoft Greek cheese, but you can substitute good Greek feta. Grill-marked watermelon is sweet and juicy. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of mint and dill, and a good drizzle of fine extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic.

4.  Multi-Colored Melon Salad

During late summer I have a lot of fun combining several varieties of melon in one salad. Use a melon baller to scoop cute little spheres of melon from watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew for a rainbow of red, peach, and green colors. Toss the melon balls in lime juice and garnish with herbs for a festive salad platter to feed a crowd. I also like to make this salad, arranging sliced melons on a platter with cucumber, hearts of palm, scallions, and grilled shrimp, then drizzling over a ginger-lime vinaigrette. Watermelon has a unique crisp texture and bright, refreshing flavor that stands out against other intensely floral, honeyed melons.

5.  Watermelon Margarita

The dog days of summer were made for margaritas, and watermelon is a fun twist on the usual. I like this Watermelon Margarita recipe from Saveur because it includes instructions for infusing tequila with watermelon over a couple of days for a more deeply flavored drink. Limeade, Cointreau, and crushed ice go into a blender with the watermelon tequila till pureed. Pour into a glass with a salted rim and garnish with a small slice of watermelon. Refreshingly delicious, and it’s pink too!

6.  Watermelon Tabbouleh

I think this variation on traditional tomato tabbouleh from Whole Living is a fantastic idea. Quick cooking bulgur wheat is tossed with chopped watermelon, parsley, scallions, and goat cheese, then dressed in a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette. It’s light and fresh- a nice summer lunch.

7.  Caramelized Fruit Salad with Yogurt

I always look to Marcus Samuelsson for recipes that take a new approach with familiar ingredients. He’s cookbooks spark fresh inspiration in my kitchen. I found the recipe for Caramelized Fruit Salad with Yogurt in Samuelsson’s New American Table, and learned a new technique for preparing watermelon. Heat a pat of butter in a skillet and toast some spices: chili powder, cinnamon stick, ground cardamom, and fresh vanilla seeds. Toss in cubed watermelon and mango, along with lime zest, honey, and chopped cashews. Once the fruit and nuts are caramelized, transfer to a bowl and stir in sliced avocado and mint. Serve the caramelized fruit salad with yogurt. It’s a whole new way to prepare watermelon.

8.  Watermelon Granita

Frozen desserts don’t get easier than granita, or fruit ice. Simply puree the fruit and add flavorings, then freeze in a shallow tray, stirring every thirty minutes to break up ice chunks. After about 3 hours you’ve got a fine frozen ice that can be scooped into chilled bowls or champagne coupes. This week at la Domestique I’ll be sharing my recipe for Watermelon Granita with Lime and Mint. Watermelon makes a flavorful, refreshing, low-calorie dessert that’s the perfect indulgence on the hottest summer day.

9.  Watermelon Skewers

For a make-ahead hors d’oeuvres, watermelon can be cut into cubes and placed on a skewer along with briny black olives and ricotta salata cheese. Watermelon, feta, and basil is another delicious option. José Andrés makes a tapas of Tomato and Watermelon Skewers. Take inspiration from this idea and create your own watermelon skewer combo.

10.  Watermelon Bruschetta

This beautifully illustrated watermelon bruschetta from The Forest Feast got my wheels turning and now I’m thinking of all sorts of ways to put watermelon on tiny toasts. Erin places slices of ricotta salata on sliced baguette, then tops it with a mix of diced tomatoes and watermelon. I would do diced watermelon with minced red chile and cilantro atop a crisp cracker, or maybe a spoonful of tomato jam and minced watermelon with goat cheese and chives. So fun!

 What is your favorite way to cook with watermelon? Share it in the comments section. Click Here.