Mouthwatering watermelon recipes that are perfect for summer

We’ve had the most gorgeous watermelons recently: huge, pot-bellied orbs of sweet juiciness — just what we love to relish during these long summer days. Watermelons have a high water content so try to find organic fruit if you can.

Apparently, there are more than 1,000 varieties of watermelon cultivated worldwide and have been for centuries. The seeds of wild watermelons have been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. There used to be an annoying number of seeds in the fruit, but in recent times virtually seedless varieties have been developed which add greatly to my personal enjoyment of the fruit. (Although my grandchildren greatly enjoy a seed-spitting competition!)

I love to keep a watermelon in my pantry, it’s super versatile, I use it for both sweet and savoury dishes and it’s a must-have for a summer picnic. Pop a chunk into a cold box surrounded by lots of ice and then produce a chilled slice as a thirst quencher after a swim — that’s what memories are made of. 

Watermelon bites

This juicy snack reflects the time-honoured combination of juicy watermelon and salty feta

Ingredients

  • Watermelon

  • Feta

  • Spearmint leaves

Method

  1. Cut the watermelon flesh into 3cm (1 1/4 inch) cubes, arrange on a platter, cover and chill.

  2. Put a little piece of feta on top of each watermelon cube, top with a sprig of mint, secure with a cocktail stick.

Save the rind — both the flesh and rind are edible. Americans particularly love watermelon rind pickle. Bravo to the person who experimented with that originally. Here is a simple recipe from eco-chef and food author, Tom Hunt.

Tom Hunt’s pickled watermelon rind

These are ready to eat once cooled, and will keep in the fridge for a month or longer.

Tom Hunt’s pickled watermelon rind

Ingredients

  • 400g (14oz) watermelon rind

  • 275ml (9 1/2fl oz) water

  • 100ml (3 1/2fl oz) vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

  • 4 teaspoons of salt

  • 100g (3 1/2oz) sugar

Method

  1. Take watermelon rind with a little flesh still attached, peel off the hard skin and cut into 3cm (1 1/4 inch) pieces.

  2. Put the water, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil, add the rind, return to a boil and turn off the heat.

  3. Fill a clean jam jar with the pickled watermelon and juice, top with a few slices of green chilli and screw on the lid. 

Deliciously refreshing, watermelon juice is made in minutes: great in cocktails too, popsicles, smoothies or as a boozy watermelon slushie.

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Grilled watermelon slices are surprisingly delicious. Add watermelon to gazpacho for a delicious summer starter, and we love little chilled cubes with a piece of salty feta shredded over the top… they make an irresistible bite.

Watermelon limeade, granita and popsicles

Enjoy as a drink or freeze as a granita or popsicles. Lemon juice can be substituted for lime — taste and tweak.

Watermelon limeade, granita and popsicles

Method

  1. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat. Cut the rind off the watermelon, then cut the flesh into 5cm (2 inch) chunks, flick out the seeds and purée the chunks in batches in a food processor. Stir in the syrup, lime juice and zest into the melon purée. Dilute with sparkling water to taste, add a few ice cubes and a sprig of fresh mint to each glass.

  2. For watermelon popsicles, proceed as above but omit the sparkling water — the mixture should taste a little sweeter than you’d like it because it will lose a little of its intensity in the freezing. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze for 3-4 hours.

  3. For watermelon wranita, proceed as above. Freeze the watermelon liquid in a sorbetière in the usual way — the texture should be slushy. Serve in chilled glasses with a sprig of mint.

How about watermelon jellies or a granita. Watermelon and tomato are another irresistible combination in a salad, add some thinly sliced chilli for extra oomph.

Roast pork with watermelon, ginger and chilli salad

A quirky combination, the refreshing taste of watermelon pairs will with the roasted pork

Roast pork with watermelon, ginger and chilli salad

Cooking Time

1 hours 45 mins

Ingredients

  • For the pork belly

  • 1kg (2 1/4lbs) pork belly with rind attached

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

  • 2 teaspoons of freshly-chopped rosemary

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • For the watermelon salad

  • 450g (1lb) watermelon

  • 1 heaped tablespoon of pickled ginger, chopped

  • 1 small mild chilli, deseeded and chopped

  • flaky sea salt and a little sugar

  • fresh mint leaves

  • fresh basil leaves

  • 8 – 12 black Kalamata olives, stones in.

  • To garnish

  • sprigs of mint and basil leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

  2. Score the rind of the pork belly.

  3. Put the sea salt, rosemary, crushed garlic in a bowl and mix well.

  4. Rub the rosemary mixture into the scored skin.

  5. Lay the joint of pork on a rack in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes to allow the crackling to form, then reduce the temperature to 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3 and cook for a further hour or until fully cooked and the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, peel the watermelon and cut the flesh into approx. 2cm (3/4 inch) dice, removing the seeds. Fold the chopped pickled ginger and chilli into the watermelon, season with salt and a little sugar to taste.

  7. Carve the pork into 2cm (3/4 inch) thick slices approx.

  8. Add mint and basil leaves and black olives to the watermelon.

  9. Serve the pork with a side of watermelon and olive salad. Garnish with sprigs of mint and basil.

Apart from the time-honoured combination of juicy watermelon and salty feta, both crab and shrimp partner deliciously too.

Pan-fried fillets of John Dory with watermelon and chilli salsa

Watermelon is a delicious foil for mackerel but they have been so scarce this summer that you may want to use another fresh fish such as John Dory, haddock, or hake.

Pan-fried fillets of John Dory with watermelon and chilli salsa

Ingredients

  • 450g (1lb) watermelon

  • zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

  • 1 not too hot red chilli, seeded and chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander

  • 75-110ml (3-4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

  • flaky sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper and sugar

  • 6 x 225g (8oz) fillets of John Dory

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • wedges of lemon

  • sprigs of fresh coriander

Method

  1. Cut the watermelon flesh into 7mm (1/3 inch) dice, removing the seeds as you do so.

  2. Pop the diced melon into a bowl with the zest and juice of the lime, the chopped red chilli and tablespoon of freshly-chopped coriander. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt, freshly-ground black pepper and sugar to taste.

  3. Season the fillets of John Dory with flaky sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Pan-grill on a hot pan with a little extra virgin olive oil until golden on both sides.

  4. Serve on hot plates with the salsa, wedge of lime and a few sprigs of fresh coriander.

Finally, a few tips when buying a watermelon. Although you may not have much choice. Look out for a melon that has a strong consistent pale yellow stripe pattern, it should feel heavy for its size. Choose a watermelon where the skin is slightly dull rather than shiny, it’s likely to be riper and sweeter. Often the really ripe ones have a creamy yellow splodge where the melon touched the ground and have a deep hollow sound when tapped on the base.

Grilled watermelon

Super easy to do, delicious either as a sweet or savoury dish. Love it with crispy roast pork with crackling or a pan-grilled heritage pork chop.

Grilled watermelon

Ingredients

  • watermelon

  • salt

  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Top and tail the watermelon. Cut into quarters lengthways and slice into 2.5 – 3cm (1 – 1 1/4 inch) pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt on both sides (careful not too much). Lay in a single layer on a wire rack over a platter for 15-20 minutes to draw out excess moisture.

  2. Preheat a pan-grill or barbeque on a high heat.

  3. Dab dry the watermelon with a cloth or kitchen paper.

  4. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and grill until nicely charred on both sides, 5-6 minutes.

  5. Transfer to a serving platter, serve sprinkled with either crumbled feta and shredded mint or freshly squeezed lime juice, drizzle with new season’s honey and sprinkle with a chiffonade of fresh mint.

HOT TIPS

Seagull Bakery

Seagull Bakery, opened in Tramore in 2016, has been bursting at the seams for months now with long queues along the street and around the corner. At least they have expanded and opened a second artisan Bakery in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford. Husband and wife team Conor Naughton and Sarah Richards took Tramore by storm. People drive for miles for a loaf of Seagull natural sourdough bread — look out for seaweed sourdough, rye porridge loaves, baguettes, focaccias, Irish heritage grain loaves plus a tantalising selection of Seagull sweet treats. These include the famous twice-baked almond croissants, Seagull cinnamon buns, cruffins, rye brownies, dilisk and einkorn carrot cake.

See @seagullbakerytramore on Instagram

Spooney’s of Lahinch

I hear that Spooney’s of Lahinch have an exciting new ice-cream parlour and fish and chip shop doing things the old-fashioned way. Spooney’s fresh ice-cream is made daily from local milk from a nearby farm. Their fish and chips are made with freshly-caught fish and floury local spuds.

See @spooneys99 on Instagram

Masseytown Rotisseri Deli

Masseytown is located on the corner of French Church Street and Paul Street in Cork City specialises in fresh locally sourced hot rotisserie meats, straight from the spit and sandwiches in a deli ‘grab and go’ setting.

All their suppliers are small local Cork businesses including free-range chickens from East Ferry, Wagyu beef from Twomey’s in Macroom, pork and ham delivered daily from Tom Durcan’s in the English Market and freshly baked bread from Pana breads in Midleton.
They make all their own mayonnaise, Béarnaise, BBQ and chutneys in-house.

Check them out the next time you are in Cork city.

See @masseytown on Instagram

Design POP

Cork city’s architecture, design and food festival, Design POP, will return to the streets of Cork and online August 27 – 29

Check out their ‘Milking parlour stool challenge/auction’.

designpop.ie

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