Is there any summer pleasure more gratifying than sitting outside and taking a huge bite of a thick wedge of watermelon, with juice dripping unnoticed down your chin? The juiciness, the deep, distinctive pink color, and the bracing cold of watermelon might just be the dictionary definition of “perfect outdoor summer food.”
So why not broaden our watermelon horizons? Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different ways of enjoying watermelon that are just as delicious, just as refreshing—but just a little neater than that gorgeously sloppy wedge.
1. Watermelon-Feta-Herb Salad
A classic dish in Israel and along the Mediterranean, the sweet-savory combination of this salad will both surprise and delight you. Simply combine crumbled feta cheese with chunks of watermelon, and sprinkle with your choice of chopped herbs. Mint is a classic accompaniment, but basil and even dill are also delicious. Of course, you can use a combination of herbs for more dynamic flavor. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and enjoy!
2. Watermelon Salsa
Watermelon is a perfect ingredient in a fresh, light salsa to enjoy with chips or on grilled fish. Cut watermelon into small pieces and combine with any seasonal salsa ingredients that excite you—mango, jalapeño pepper, basil, cilantro, and red onion come to mind. Drizzle with lime or lemon juice, sprinkle with salt, and gently stir together. Let the salsa sit for at least 30 minutes before serving so the flavors can mingle.
3. Watermelon Agua Fresca
Literally “fresh water” in Spanish, aqua frescas are simple, cooling drinks that hydrate and replenish. To make one from juicy watermelon, run about 4 cups of cubed watermelon through a blender with a cup of water and a big pinch of sugar. Strain the liquid into a container and stir in the juice of two limes. Refrigerate until cold and serve topped with a splash of club soda or sparkling water.