There’s truly a holiday for almost every food, but we’re not complaining! We’ll take any excuse to celebrate — especially when it’s for something as delicious as watermelon.
August 3rd is National Watermelon Day, and if any fruit deserved a day dedicated to it, it’s this one. Watermelon is one of the most popular summer treats because of its sweet, refreshing flavor and surprising versatility. Today, we’re breaking down some of the benefits of watermelon and a few of our favorite recipes to enjoy this versatile fruit to the fullest.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
First, let’s start with some fun watermelon facts! According to the Mayo Clinic, one cup of watermelon contains only 46 calories and is packed with Vitamin A, C, and potassium. Additionally, there are only 12 grams of carbs in watermelon.
And while this all goes to show that watermelon is a good fruit to incorporate into a healthy diet, the benefits don’t stop there. Healthline explains that watermelon, as the name suggests, is 92% water. While this doesn’t make it the most nutritious fruit, it is the most refreshing. Eating watermelon can help keep you hydrated, especially on a hot summer day. And while other benefits of watermelon haven’t been extensively studied, it’s believed that it may improve heart health while lowering inflammation and oxidative stress. It also contains naturally occurring electrolytes.
How To Pick The Perfect Watermelon
As with all fruit, the look, taste, and texture of watermelon can change depending on the one you pick (no two may taste the same). Some are sweeter and juicier, while others may fall flat. Luckily, we’ve organized a few of our favorite tips for picking the best watermelon every time:
Stripes, Stripes, Stripes: According to Real Simple, melons with a strong, consistent stripe pattern are often the sweetest. The coloring should be dull, with a deep green base and creamy, light yellow stripes.
The Field Spot: Look for a large, discolored spot on the surface of your watermelon. This is its field spot and shows where it sat on the ground (and is a good indicator of the melon’s quality). It should be creamy and yellow, not white or light yellow.
Give it a Tap: Knock on the melon and listen for a deep and hollow sound. This means it has more water and is likely riper. A knock resulting in a denser sound may mean the rind is too thick and the fruit is not at its optimal state.
Spots, Spots, Spots: Let’s put it this way, a perfect-looking watermelon probably won’t taste good. Dry weathering spots and vein-like webbing lines are tell-tale signs of super sweet watermelon. They show where the sugar has been seeping out of the fruit.
Shape: Rounder, more evenly shaped watermelons are sweeter, while oval ones might be more watery and less flavorful.
Remember that watermelon will always taste best when it’s in season. May through September is the peak harvesting season and it’s when you’ll find the tastiest melons at the grocery store or local farmer’s market.
Our Favorite Watermelon Recipes
While there’s nothing wrong with cutting open a fresh watermelon and enjoying it as-is, its flavor can be elevated when paired with other summer ingredients. In the last few years, chefs and home cooks have been getting creative with watermelon and appreciating it for the versatile fruit it is.
Here are some of our favorite watermelon recipes that span everything from sweet desserts to savory sides.
Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad
This recipe from Today comes together in mere minutes with only five ingredients. The juicy, sweet watermelon perfectly complements the peppery arugula and slightly spicy red onion. Feta cheese (or goat cheese) adds some much-needed salt and everything is topped off with a splash of EVOO and fresh lemon juice.
Feta and watermelon are a dynamite pair and also work well on their own with a few leaves of fresh mint in a Greek-inspired salad. Read up on some of our other favorite summer salads for even more inspiration.
Pickled Watermelon Rind Slaw
Have you ever wondered what you can do with the watermelon rind left behind? This recipe from Southern Living makes this often discarded piece of watermelon the star. Simply pickle it (which is much easier than it sounds) along with some fresh ginger and spices. After leaving the mixture overnight in the fridge, you have a refreshing and flavorful slaw that you can serve alongside chicken or fish.
Watermelon Dessert Pizza
For something sweeter, consider this twist on a classic comfort food dessert from Today. Use thick slices of watermelon as your base and then go wild with toppings. We recommend making your own whipped cream or cool whip as the “sauce” and adding plenty of colorful berries as toppings. This dessert is equal parts refreshing and indulgent and you can create unlimited flavor pairings. Consider setting up a mix-and-match toppings bar so your family or guests can make their own watermelon dessert pizza and judge the most creative.
Chile-Lime Grilled Watermelon
If you’ve never grilled watermelon, you’re missing out. The grill brings out the sweetness in the watermelon and can caramelize the sugars for a truly delicious and crisp bite. This recipe from Cooking On The Weekends takes this to the next level by pairing grilled watermelon with zesty lime and spicy chili. This snack comes together quickly since you only need to grill the watermelon for about 30 seconds on each side using a neutral oil to ensure it doesn’t stick to the grill.
This grilled treat is a great side to some of our other healthy recipes you can try on the grill this summer.
Watermelon-and-Feta Orzo Salad
Finally, you can’t miss this watermelon fusion salad if you’re craving a heartier side or meal. Arugula and feta are once again used in this recipe alongside a homemade Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette and orzo pasta (easy to make this gluten or grain-free with a different pasta choice!) This is the perfect side to bring to the family BBQ or to enjoy while lounging poolside.
Ready to learn more about how to make your favorite fruits and veggies pop in your next lunch or dinner? Want to stay up to date on upcoming food holidays? Check out the Snap Kitchen blog for more!