Once you sink your teeth into a cool watermelon wedge, hear that unmistakeable crunch, and feel the pink juice rush into your mouth, it’s hard to remember ever having been cold or unhappy. That’s the joy of fresh summery fruit like this: even one rosy slice evokes happy memories of poolside lunches, skin warm and sticky from sunscreen, and beach sand (or green grass) between your toes.
And there’s a reason watermelon is so refreshing: it’s 92% water. But don’t think that means this cousin of the pumpkin and cucumber is lacking in nutrition. It’s a source of vitamin A, which is important for eye health and the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells; vitamin B6, which helps the immune system produce antibodies, maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells; and vitamin C, which protects against free radicals.
According to the US National Watermelon Promotion Board (yes, there’s a whole organisation devoted to it), you need three things to grow watermelon: sun, bees and water. Luckily for us, eating it is even easier!
Make hot days a bit more bearable with watermelon lollies. Simply mix chunks of peeled and deseeded melon in a food processor. Transfer to another bowl, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whisk until smooth. Pour into moulds and freeze for four hours or until set.
Chunks of watermelon topped with crumbled feta and sprigs of mint make a simple, delicious side salad for a summer braai – especially with lamb. To make the salad more fun, you could make shapes out of the watermelon with cookie cutters or make individual salads in glass jars for each person.
For a cool take on prawn cocktail, combine cooked, peeled prawns with small blocks of watermelon. Drizzle with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, castor sugar, salt and pepper. Crumble feta over the top and garnish with basil leaves.
Combine smoked or seared salmon with blocks of watermelon, watercress and caper berries dressed with flavoured balsamic vinegar for a lovely light lunch.
Make a refreshing drink by blending peeled, deseeded watermelon, apple juice, mint leaves and ice cubes. Add a few shots of vodka or rum for a more festive twist. You can also try this watermelon cocktail with vanilla-spiced rum.
What are your favourite recipes with watermelon? Please tell us all your secrets in the comment section below.