Summer Salads and Roasted Watermelon?

Summer salads are a staple for hot summer days, great for lunch, dinner or dessert.

This recipe focuses on delicious refreshing salads! There are many variations to choose from—fruit salads, vegetable salads, or even a combination of fruits and vegetables.

We love watermelon. Because of our love, I’m starting this month with this cool, crisp, juicy, and delicious fruit. I saw an article and several demonstrations for roasting or grilling watermelon! I thought it sounded so crazy, so I decided to take the challenge. You should prepare it too and see how it tastes!

I prepared three different versions: a chipotle-rubbed 3.5 hour roasted watermelon, grilled watermelon steaks (I use that word VERY loosely…), then, using the leftovers, I made BBQ watermelon bites.

Ducks Eatery in NYC first cooked this watermelon “ham” using the recipe “as an experiment of how people view meat,” according to chef and owner Will Horowitz (@WillHorowitz). The finished watermelon recipe looks amazing. After being cured for 4-6 days, it was dried then smoked for 8 hours and finished in a pan to take on the “ham roast” look. When we are able to travel back to NYC, I will be sure to head to Ducks to try the original as it probably tastes amazing.

I chose a few short-cut variations of the original idea to get the feel for trying something different and to see where it would take me! For those who have an adventurous sense of cooking, try one of the recipes below and see what you think. Let me know which one you like best!

To Healthy Eating!

Melissa

Summer Salads and Roasted Watermelon

Roast watermelon with chipotle seasoning, then finish with a sauce made of soy sauce, thyme, paprika, garlic, and olive oil.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 35 mins
Course First Course to Meal, Hors d'oeuvres/Appetizers, Side Dish
Cuisine All American
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 whole Watermelon
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce Or Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Paprika or smoked ground paprika

Sauce for Watermelon Steaks

  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar Reduced for 8-10 min.
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Turn oven on to 350 degrees.
  • Peel off watermelon rind so only the red flesh is left.
  • Cross-hatch about 1/3rd cut into the peeled watermelon.
  • Sprinkle with chipotle powder and rub over the top of the watermelon.
  • Bake at 350 degrees on a greased wire tray pan for 3 hours. After 3 hours, take out of the oven.
  • Make a mixture of soy sauce, liquid smoke, paprika, oil, and thyme. Brush the mixture over the top and sides of the roast.
  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place watermelon back in the oven and bake for another 30-45 minutes.
  • Slice like a ham roast. The consistency is different, still moist with a bit of a crunch, but the heat, saltiness and smoke flavors of the added mixture adds an unexpected flavor combo.

Watermelon Steaks

  • Slice watermelon, trimming off rind to make a nice square.
  • Pat dry for a few minutes to remove external wetness.
  • Place each square on paper towel in the refrigerator for few hours to dry out the watermelon steak.
  • In the meantime, reduce balsamic vinegar in a pot on the stovetop for 8-10 minutes on medium heat, frequently stirring until the reduction occurs. Set aside.
  • In a fry pan, heat the oil over low to medium heat, then lay the steaks in, searing on each side. You will see a caramelization and nice browning of the steaks. They should look like seared ahi tuna steaks.
  • Once the "steaks" are nicely seared, remove from heat and drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint for a beautiful presentation.

BBQ Watermelon Nuggets

  • After I had made all of the above, we did actually eat some of it and analyzed its texture, taste and improvements we wanted. With the leftovers, I decided to create BBQ watermelon nuggets.
  • Take the leftover watermelon and cut it into strips. Layer the strips onto a greased wire pan and coat both side generously with your favorite BBQ sauce. I used Tessemae's organic BBQ sauce.
  • The BBQ bites came out crispier. They had less inside crunch but still a smooth texture. We finished them all!

Notes

Melissa's Modifications—This cooking adventure with watermelon was an interesting one. The photos show me how beautiful this fruit is, and it makes enticing looking dishes. However, the anticipation of the "look and the taste" do not go hand in hand . . . it is a mind experiment of sorts. If I had not prepared the dishes but had closed my eyes and had a taste test with no preconceived notions of what I was eating, I may have had a different taste experience.
If you like your watermelon cold, these dishes are not for your palate.
Nutritional Value:  1 cup diced -  46 calories; 0 fat; 11g carbs; 170mg Potassium; 1g Protein; 20% Vitamin C; 17% Vitamin A; 2% Iron; 5%; Vitamin B-6; 3% Magnesium.