Once watermelon season gets going, it truly gets going — and you may find that you've overcommitted to the fruit even with just one melon. Don’t let those larger-than-life melons go to waste in your fridge. Here are our six favorite ways to get every last bit out of summer — and watermelon season — while it’s still here.
Granita is a frozen ice treat made from sugar and flavoring. In this case, you can make it with naturally sweet watermelon that you’ll blend and freeze. Pulse leftover watermelon flesh in a food processor or blender — you don’t need to add anything to it except a squeeze of lemon or lime — and store it in a freezer-safe casserole dish in your freezer. Every hour or so, run a fork through the mixture, which will distribute the ice crystals. It’s ready to eat after about four hours (so you’ll scrape it with a fork around three times before you eat it). Unlike ice cream, you don’t have to use any specific equipment for granita. Just freeze, scrape, and eat. For variety, amplify your granita with a hint of salt, some fresh lime juice, fresh mint and basil, or even a teaspoon of Tajín.
Grilling your watermelon brings out a different side of this flexible fruit. Slice your melon into wedges and place them directly onto the grill on high, direct heat. Let the wedges sit long enough to get grill marks, about two to three minutes. The char will bring out delicious and unexpected caramelized notes. No need to slice off the rinds or remove the seeds for this! You can eat your grilled watermelon plain, in salads, or even as part of a watermelon salsa, alongside mango, tomatoes, charred jalapeños, and onions. Pro-tip: Pair it with grilled pork tenderloin for a marriage made in heaven.
Pickled Watermelon Rinds
Don’t toss those rinds! Although the green skin of the watermelon isn’t edible, the white part that sits between the red flesh and the green exterior definitely is, and it makes a delicious seasonal snack. First, remove the thin, green, inedible outer layer with a sharp vegetable peeler. Then, for a quart of pickles, use ½ cup of rice vinegar, six tablespoons of sugar, two teaspoons of kosher salt, and one cup of water that is hot enough to dissolve the dry ingredients. Stir the solution together, pack trimmed rinds from one small watermelon into a quart container, pour the solution over them, and allow them to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Once ready, pair them with everything from cheese to fried chicken sandwiches. These fridge pickles will hold for about a month.
Give sweet watermelon an added pop from a little lime juice and basil. For every two-and-a-half cups of watermelon, use two tablespoons of fresh lime juice and one cup of muddled basil leaves. Combine all three in a blender, pour the mixture into your favorite popsicle mold, and freeze for at least six hours to allow summer to last just a little bit longer. These no-sugar-added pops represent the best of melon season, and you won’t waste even a drop of those super ripe watermelons.
Watermelon, Tomato, Feta, and Bacon Salad
Bring watermelon over to the savory side by combining it with feta cheese, in-season tomatoes, and crispy bacon. Make a dressing of three parts extra-virgin olive oil, one part high-quality balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste — it goes a long way with a simple salad like this. Or, hold the bacon and swap for pan-fried shallots, which you can bring to crispy life in just a little bit of olive oil.
Roasted Watermelon Seeds
Don’t waste your watermelon seeds — eat them instead. Run a spoon between the grooves in your melons to gather the seeds quickly, then rinse them in water to remove any lingering fruit. Dry the seeds briefly with paper towels before tossing them with salt and placing them on a baking tray in a 325-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The result is a savory, nutty treat that is excellent on salads, on top of summer soups, and especially as a standalone snack. The seeds should be stored in an air-tight container, like a mason jar, and kept away from moisture or light. They can hold up to two weeks.
Photography: Paul Quitoriano
Food Styling: Mary Rupp
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros