Combating Watermelon Fatigue

One of the best and worst parts of summer is the watermelon. Sure, everyone loves watermelon, and nothing says summer like a cold, sweet slice on a hot afternoon. That’s the good part. The bad part is that even the “mini” ones are larger than a child’s head. And the big ones are the melon equivalent of a Cruise America RV.

By some point into the summer — usually early to mid July — I begin suffering from watermelon fatigue. My kids insist on watermelon, so I buy the smallest one I can find. And then people begin showing up with them. They’re too big to fit in the fridge, so they sit on the counter for three days and then begin to ferment, releasing their juices insidiously into your kitchen. If you’re lucky and do figure out how to get them into the fridge, where they take up nearly a whole shelf beside their only company the gallon of milk, you feed it to the kids several times a day until its eventually gone and they too feel fatigue. And then another one shows up with well-meaning dinner guests. “We brought a watermelon for the kids!”

So aside from force feeding your offspring or tossing the eventually fermented rinds to the chickens, what can you do with the 14 pounds of watermelon on your counter? Some really good things, actually.

Watermelon salad with seared scallops, basil and red onion

The idea for this post came earlier this evening, as I tried to figure out a way to dispense of the last fat slice of a particularly persistent watermelon. I decided to turn to the cuisine of Italy for inspiration — the Italians are great at being resourceful with overly large and abundant produce. Witness the zucchini. So I shaved the watermelon into thin slices, dressed it with red onion and basil, drizzled it with some balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, and topped it with three big, beautiful seared scallops. And then I remembered that on the 4th of July, I brought a large watermelon juice left over from Lotería Grill the day before to a friend’s barbecue, and created a refreshing cocktail that in honor of the Founding Fathers I dubbed “The Declaration.” There’s two things right off the top of my head! A bit more thinking and I remembered a tasty watermelon gazpacho with proscuitto I’d once made. Maybe I wasn’t giving watermelon a fair shake after all. I just wish the darned thing wasn’t so big.

There may not be uses for an entire watermelon. But if you can get your kids to eat half, here are some of those things I mentioned that you can do with the rest. The guy who hybridizes a single-serving individual watermelon that you can peel like an orange will be onto something.

*   *   *

The Declaration
serves 4

(note: I’ve never actually juiced a watermelon, so I’m not sure how you go about it. They’re so juicy it seems like you could either mash them in a fine sieve, or put chunks in a blender and then strain the juice out through a fine sieve.)

4 cups watermelon juice
1 cup pineapple juice
6-8 large mint leaves
6 oz. tequila (preferably silver or reposada)
2 oz. orange liqueur
2 tbsp. sugar, dissolved in 2 tbsp. hot water
ice

Work in two batches. Place half the ingredients in the blender with a third again as much ice. Blend on high. Serve in two margarita or martini glasses. Place remaining ingredients in the blender and repeat.

*   *   *

Watermelon salad with seared scallop, basil and red onion
serves 4

1 large, 1 inch-thick slice of seedless watermelon
12 large scallops
2 tbsp. dried herbes de provence
1 small red onion, chopped
5 or 6 large leaves basil, chopped
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper

With a large knife, slice the watermelon thinly lengthwise into 1/8 inch-thick slices. When you’ve sliced it all, cut it again diagonally through all the slices to create large triangle shapes. Lay shapes artfully on four plates, creating a fan-like design.

Put your chopped onion and basil on a cutting board, toss together and then mince finely. Set aside.

If you don’t have herbes de provence, you could use dried tarragon or dried thyme. Coat the scallops in dried herbs and heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, sear the scallops about 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

To compose salads, divide onion/basil mixture equally sprinkled over each. Drizzle each salad with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Set seared scallops on top of salad, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

*   *   *

Watermelon gazpacho with proscuitto
serves 4

2 lbs. watermelon chunks
1/2 lb. honeydew melon, cut into uniform dice-sized chunks
1 large ripe red tomato
1/4 cup sweet white onion, chopped
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
a few slices crusty french or ciabatta-style bread
4 slices proscuitto
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Place watermelon chunks, tomato, white onion and vinegar in the blender with 1 cup water and puree. (Do in two batches if you need to.) Strain puree through a fine sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon, into a large bowl or soup pot. Season to taste with salt, and place in the fridge to cool.

While your gazpacho is cooking, make croutons: cut your bread into uniform dice-sized pieces. Toss with olive and cook in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes, until golden and crusty. Slice your proscuitto pieces in half width-wise, and the into small strips lengthwise.

When the gazpacho has cooled to the desired temperature (it should be chilled), take from the fridge and pour into four soup bowls. Arrange honeydew melon chunks and croutons in each bowl. Top with strips of proscuitto. Drizzle each soup liberally with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paul
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 01:18:42

    I have to say that it is practically sacrilege to live in Florida and not be able to face a watermelon without being a little revolted. It is not the watermelon being bad as I remember having watermelon-loving southern country cousins who grew their own and knew a good one from mediocre to bad watermelons yelling “Hooooweeee this is one fine tasting watermelon.” I would give it a taste and simply not comprehend the excitement nor understand the gorging. Never liked it and I have tried over and over to like them–like getting baptized 3 times before giving up on religion. That being said the scallops look great and I could be persuaded to try watermelon one more time if presented this way with smaller portions of watermelon with concentrated flavor. It is, however, a little weird that my favorite Jolly Rancher is the Watermelon flavor.

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 01:27:13

      There’s a certain irony that the watermelon dishes I’ve come up with that work the best use a tiny amount of melon. I’m thinking from now on juicing is the way to go. Watermelon juice pairs remarkably well with tequila.

      Reply

  2. g
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 02:13:13

    Wow, delicious looking. Anthea brought a great watermelon salad to our house on Carmageddon if you recall, with mint and feta cheese.

    I always have to laugh when I see the displays in the supermarket for “personal watermelons.” (although for a 2-person house, they are just about right sized.)

    Reply

  3. mom
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 03:47:25

    I avoid them at all costs and always have which may be why you’re having trouble with them. I’m with Paul. Mom

    Reply

  4. Ben
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 04:16:04

    Watermelon, French feta, mint, grilled prawns, EVOO, S&P.

    Reply

  5. Lisa Gaskin
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 05:31:53

    This totally cracks me up. Jimbo who of course is a watermelon-er from way back (who couldn’t be with a name like Jimbo) and tells stories about how far he can spit the black seeds, is, I think, an in-denial watermelon revoltee! As some of you know…he’s from Florida…best damn watermelon I’ve ever had….BUT…then I buy him one and it sits there…he makes excuses not to eat it…the giant mother gets shifted from the garage frig to upstairs just for his pleasure and then he neglects it…negates it…pretends like it’s not there. Floridians are watermelon-haters if the truth were to be known! I get all excited at the grocery store when I see those ones that have already been made into slices because I don’t have to navigate that friggen big ball for days on end..but alas…even then disses the one he professes to love 😉

    Reply

  6. Dia
    Jun 29, 2016 @ 06:10:30

    I eat a whole watermelon every single day :). The most nutritious and easy to digest food.

    Reply

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