I love seeing monster watermelons on market stalls and grocers, they are the size of a small child and would probably transport easier in a pushchair. They are without a doubt the epitome of summer and have an exotic element that our beloved great British strawberry will never achieve. There is some debate as to whether Watermelon is a fruit or a vegetable. Watermelon originates from West Africa and belongs to the cucurbitaceae family, its’ cousins are cucumber, pumpkin, and other squashes. It is also harvested from the field so that makes it a vegetable, right? The trouble with that theory is its’ development takes place from the ovary of the plant after flowering and it contains seeds – so that makes it a fruit?
Mother Nature smiles on as we desperately try to categorise her bounty! I smile with her when I eat a slice, and the juice drips down unceremoniously from my chin! I don’t actually care as I reach for another slice and why not? They are enormous, and the yield is generous. Watermelons are made up of 92% water, they are super hydrators. Extremely helpful in the fight against dehydration; the symptoms of which include fatigue, headaches, worsening mood, and poor concentration.
I was not aware of second variety of watermelon; it is called Yellow Crimson. Yellow Crimson has yellow flesh and has a sweeter honey-like taste. Yellow Crimson and the better-known pink watermelon known as Crimson Sweet look identical on the outside so make sure you check labels to ensure you are getting what you are looking for.
Raw as usual the most nutritionally beneficial way to consume but make sure the watermelon is at room temperature.
As part of a fruit salad endless recipes available with watermelon figs, feta cheese and parma ham make a frequent appearance in recipes I’ve come across.
Chilled watermelon soup from Martha Condra. Recipe for a 2 pint serving
Combine 2 tbls of chopped and seeded cucumber with 2 tbls freshly chopped mint and set aside. Take 3ib of chopped watermelon with 3 tbls of sugar, ½ cup dry white wine, 2 tbls lime juice, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp of tabasco – optional and blend till smooth. Decant and served well chilled into bowls. Top with the cucumber and mint garnish and enjoy while waiting for the BBQ to heat.
Watermelon and basil water
¼ basil leaves and tbls of sugar in a pot and crush with a wooden spoon then pour 1 cup of boiling water stir to dissolve the sugar and let steep till cool.
Puree 1lb watermelon and 2 cups of cold water. Take the watermelon mix and basil mix, pour into a fine strainer over a bowl, discard the pulp. Pour liquid into a jug and add a further 2 cup of cold water and 2tbls of lime juice, stir before adding ice and serve.
They are many methods of infusing alcohol into a watermelon, this needs to be done at least a day in advance. Or it makes a great punch bowl when the flesh is scooped out with a melon baller. I’ll let you do your own research, just ensure your guests know so they can drink responsibly.
Roasted watermelon yes, you read that correctly roasted watermelon! It is a real thing, I have prepared it and found it’s all about the marinade. Its texture is often likened to tuna or salmon and referred to as the vegan baked ham. Peel the watermelon with a knife or a big potato peeler sprinkle with salt to help dehydrate and perhaps a cajun spice or I used smoked paprika to start adding flavour then put on a roasting tray in the oven at 200 for approx. 90 mins. As I said, the key is the marinade. I found a simple and perfectly respectable olive oil, thyme, and garlic marinade which worked, but my hands-down favourite is as follows. I used the recipe from the genius avantgarde vegan and adjusted to my preference and available ingredients.
Approximately 2 tablespoons (adjust according to the size of the water melon and taste buds around your table)
Equal measures of the following Tomato puree, sesame oil, tahini paste, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, 2 jalapenos, 3-4 spring onions thyme, 4-5 cloves garlic, zest of a lime handful of fresh coriander. Blend into a paste. Taste test for seasoning.
Take the watermelon out, it should have a springy texture and starting to char this is good! If the texture appears the same pop back in the oven and check every 20 mins till you get the spring ting. Score the top of your watermelon and paint the paste on. It’s not going to win a beauty contest, but the flavour is stunning. Depending on the size of your watermelon, at this point you could take your watermelon to a BBQ and let it sear, char and sizzle don’t be shy with the marinade. Or pop it back in the oven to absorb the flavours for another 30 mins or so. Don’t worry if it’s a little charred. Take out of the oven and allow for the juices while cutting into slices. I would use any remaining marinade as a dip at this point it’s that good. Enjoy!
Watermelon Jalapeno salsa
Combine 1 tbsp Oregano and olive oil, 1 tsp chilli powder, ¾ tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt, 3 x minced garlic cloves and add to the protein of choice I used chicken breast. Let it marinate for a few hours or ideally overnight. Take 2x cups of cubed watermelon, 1x cup cubed peeled mango, ¼ cup finely diced red onion, 2 tbsp diced jalapeno, 2 tbsp fresh coriander 1 tbsp lime juice, ½ tsp sugar, ¼ tsp salt. Grill the chicken till cooked and serve with the watermelon salsa.
Cut 3 ½ cups of watermelon into cubes lay onto a tray and freeze overnight. Pop frozen melon into a food processor add 2 tsp of lime juice and allow to thaw slightly before blending. Add warm water as necessary to get the right texture and honey to adjust the sweetness. Eat straightaway or pop back in the freezer if you want it firmer.
Low in calories and packed with Vit C A B1 5 6 Potassium and Magnesium.
Vit C is the antioxidant great for fighting free radicals. It helps your body to make collagen which is great for strong skin and hair
High in carotenoid which your body turns into vitamin A and lycopene which is another type of antioxidant which can benefit brain health and eye health
Also contains Cucurbitacin E an antioxidant and with anti-inflammatory qualities
Citrulline is an amino acid that absorbs well in watermelon. It increases blood vessels and lower blood pressure so great for heart health and to help repair muscles after a workout. This is also referred to as natures Viagra due to increased blood flow although you would have to eat an awful lot and it can be sourced elsewhere.
So, to conclude Watermelon is delicious, versatile full of the good stuff and, while not grown in UK, available April to September. Oh! By the way, in Japan, they are hugely popular, usually ornamental, expensive, and grown in the shape of a square!