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(Family Features) Sliced or diced, grilled or blended, there are countless ways to prepare watermelon. With some fruits, half or more is wasted when you throw away the seeds and peel, but you may be surprised to learn that you can use an entire watermelon, including the rind, to make delicious and refreshing dishes.
Most people think of watermelon as a sweet, juicy snack perfect for hot summer days, but with its high water content (92 percent), the fruit is more than just tasty. It’s also an ideal way to keep your body hydrated. What’s more, the ability to use the entire fruit makes watermelon one of the most versatile and value-conscious options in the produce department.
An average watermelon consists of about 70 percent fruit and 30 percent rind. Hollowed out, the rind is an attractive way to serve any number of recipes, but the rind is actually edible, too, and can be stir-fried, stewed or pickled, or even enjoyed raw. This yummy slaw gets its distinctive crunch from the watermelon rind, which is packed with citrulline and arginine, two compounds that may aid in healthy blood flow.
Watermelon is also a flavorful substitute for tomatoes, as shown in this traditional Italian appetizer, and contains higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable per serving, according to award-winning nutrition author and registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer.
Additionally, it lends some sweetness to a spicy salsa and a refreshing twist on a summery salad. You can also try blending watermelon with other fresh fruits for a super smoothie or mixing it up with some adult libations (and don’t forget, you can transform the rind into a mini-keg in minutes; just add a pour spout).
Find more ideas for using every bite of fruit, juice and rind at watermelon.org.
Watermelon Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Makes: 6 servings
12 slices watermelon cut into rounds or squares, approximately 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick, with seeds removed1/2 cup balsamic vinegar2 tablespoons honey1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 12 slicessalt, to tastepepper, to taste1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely chopped2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 sprig basil, for garnish
Place watermelon slices on paper towels and cover with additional paper towels to absorb excess fluid.In small saucepan over medium heat, add vinegar and honey. Stir to blend, bring to simmer and reduce heat. Stir occasionally until mixture is reduced by almost half. (Do not let reduce too far or allow to froth.) Set aside to cool slightly.On large platter, place watermelon slices and top each with slice of cheese. Add salt and pepper, to taste, then sprinkle basil leaves evenly over top. Drizzle with olive oil, followed by reduced balsamic vinegar. Garnish with sprig of basil.
Tip: Use red and yellow watermelon for an extra pretty presentation.
Watermelon Rind Slaw
Makes: 4 one-cup servings
1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt1/4 cup low-fat sour cream1 1/2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1 tablespoon sugar1 teaspoon poppy seeds2 teaspoons olive oilsalt, to tastepepper, to taste
4 cups grated watermelon rind (fruit and green peel removed)1 cup grated carrot1 1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple
In small bowl, blend Greek yogurt, sour cream, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, poppy seeds, olive oil, salt and pepper thoroughly. Set aside.Place watermelon rind on several layers of paper towels to soak up excess fluid.In medium bowl, place dressing, rind, carrot and pineapple, and toss to thoroughly coat.
Watermelon Slice Ice Pops
Makes: 5-15 servings
5-15 watermelon slices, cut into triangular wedge shapes, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick, with seeds removed5-15 ice pop sticks
Insert ice pop stick into rind of each slice.
Optional variation: After inserting sticks, freeze ice pops before serving.
Makes: 3 cups
2 cups cubed and seeded watermelon1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries1 cup raspberry kefir2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate2 tablespoons hemp2 tablespoons agave syrupice (optional)
Place watermelon, raspberries, raspberry kefir, orange juice concentrate, hemp, agave syrup and ice, if desired, in blender and blend until smooth.