Not only is it Father’s Day weekend, but the first official day of summer is close behind. The time for grilling parties and BBQ’s is here! In South Louisiana I’m not sure why the grilling season has to be during 100 degree plus days, but considering I’m a shorts and flip flop kind of girl, I usually don’t mind…just have the fan facing me with a mister attached and keep my drink cool! When I’m grilling in the heat of summer, I love the refreshing mini vacation watermelon can give me. As hot as it can be here, there is nothing like a bite of cold watermelon. I swear, it seems at times that with each bite of sweet melon, my body temperature drops. We love watermelon in our family. Remember Potluck Picnic Tomato Watermelon Salad, my hubby’s favorite? For him that salad makes it reason enough to always have watermelon on hand during the summer. For me, it’s all about the watermelon rind. In fact, I wish there was more rind than flesh sometimes. Perhaps after seeing all these delicious treats that can be made with the rind, you’ll feel the same way.
Think of watermelon as a fruit and a vegetable (because it is, save this info for a trivia night) and use it as such.
Get a sneak peek of these recipes here on WAFB Big Xtra Hour Morning Show
For all these recipes, simply use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough, thin green layer of the watermelon rind.
Watermelon Rind Salsa Fresca: I like a simple mix of diced tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and rind with cilantro, garlic, and lime juice. Great as a dip or as a topping for fish or shrimp tacos. Have a favorite salsa recipe? Just add watermelon rind to it or even jazz up store-bought salsa.
Watermelon Rind Cole Slaw: Use a vegetable peeler to shred the rind. Toss with 2 to 1 olive oil to vinegar, salt, and black pepper, shredded carrots, and sliced purple onion. Let sit in fridge overnight for flavors to meld. If you have some pineapple, it is a nice addition to add. Have a favorite cole slaw recipe? Just add the shredded watermelon rind or even add it to store-bought coleslaw mix.
Watermelon Rind Granita: Put enough watermelon rind into the food processor to make 1 cup. Process until minced. Stir 3 oz sugar into 1/2 cup hot water. Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted. Add 1 TBSP lime juice. Place into shallow glass or ceramic dish. Cover. Freeze 1 hour. Remove. Use a fork to scrape the ice. Replace cover and return to freezer. Will be ready in 2 hours. When ready to serve, just scrape with fork. If you would like to add vodka or gin for an alcoholic granita, simply add a shot in along with the lime juice and increase the amount of watermelon rind by 1/4 cup.
Watermelon Rind Pepper Jelly: Dice the watermelon rind. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain. The rind is now ready to use in your favorite pepper jelly recipe. Use it as you would any jelly. I love watermelon rind pepper jelly with blackened mahi-mahi.
Fried Watermelon Rind “French Toast”: Slice the watermelon rind into sticks. Put onto a paper towel lined plate. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight to air-dry. In a bowl, make a egg wash of 1 egg to 1 TBSP Orange Juice. (Can also add vanilla extract.) In another bowl add all-purpose flour seasoned with cinnamon. Double dip the rind sticks into the egg and flour mixture. Pan fry in hot oil for 3 minutes per side. Serve with powdered sugar drizzled with maple syrup.
Candied Watermelon Rind: If you have a food dehydrator then put it to tasty use making dried watermelon and candied melon. If you don’t have a food dehydrator, simple use a cookie sheet and a low oven of 200 degrees. It is going to take a while, but so worth it. Cut into desired shapes, remember the smaller and thinner the rind, the quicker it will dry. But plan on at least 4 hours. When dried toss in sugar or flavored sugar. I like to add diced crystalized ginger to mine, too. Tasty as a snack, mixed into granola, popcorn, or even ice cream!
Roasted Watermelon Rind and Potatoes: Cube rind and new potatoes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes at 400*, tossing every 15 minutes. Top with green onions. The watermelon rind works well with other roasted vegetables, too, especially carrots.
Since I’ve included some TO COOK IS TO CREATE tips within the watermelon rind uses, here is my food fun.
FOOD FUN: Out of all these watermelon rind treats, the one that is my all-time favorite is the watermelon rind coleslaw. You can say it holds a special place in my heart. I make it the way my MeMaw used to make it and it always brings back sweet memories. I used to love it on a hot dog and even though, I don’t eat many dogs nowadays, I always, always splurge on a hot dog to top with this slaw. For a few bites, I am back at the kitchen table with my MeMaw, probably talking and laughing with a mouthful. May all food memories be as precious to you.