Watermelon Caprese Salad

Watermelon Caprese Salad

Watermelon is one of those things you want to eat as much of as you can while it’s in season. Local watermelons are great in July and August, so now’s the time to best appreciate them.

Using watermelon in dishes other than sweet might seem strange if you’ve never tried it, but the texture and thickness of watermelon can replace tomato in many dishes. Caprese salad is one. You can keep the other components traditional, with basil and mozzarella. Or you can replace those with feta and mint. Creating this salad as a stack makes a chic presentation. 

Watermelon is great in salsa, and its sweetness can be easily balanced with jalapeño, onion and lime juice. This salsa is pretty  for a party with a rainbow of vegetables, chips and crackers.

For something new, try a watermelon pizza. Cut a watermelon into 1-inch-thick wedges and grill for about 5 minutes per side on hot, direct heat. Let cool, then top each wedge with arugula, feta, Greek olives, olive oil and a balsamic glaze. This is a different way to eat salad this summer.

Tips to pick

Thumping the watermelon to see if it’s ripe does work, but it can be tricky if you don’t know what to listen for. Here are some tips for choosing the perfect watermelon:

  • Look for a watermelon without bruises or dents.
  • Turn the watermelon over to inspect the underside. A watermelon with a creamy yellow spot means it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, which is what you want.
  • Lift the watermelon. It should feel heavy for its size.
  • If you want to thump your watermelon, listen for a dull, hollow sound. An unripe watermelon will sound almost clear.

Watermelon mojito granita 

Makes 6 servings

  • 5 cups peeled and seeded watermelon chunks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup white rum
  • Fresh mint

In a food processor or blender, place the watermelon chunks. Add sugar, lime juice and rum, pulsing until mixed and sugar is dissolved, about 30 seconds.

Pour mixture into a large, shallow dish or bowl. Freeze 30 minutes.

Remove bowl from the freezer, and use a fork to scrape any ice crystals from the sides of the bowl. Stir to incorporate the crystals. Return to the freezer. Repeat this process every 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the consistency is snowy when scraped with a fork, about 4 hours. Serve in cocktail glasses or dessert cups with a sprig of fresh mint. 

This take on a Caprese salad replaces tomato with watermelon. It can be stacked or tossed together.

Watermelon Caprese Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 small watermelon, sliced into rounds
  • 1 mozzarella ball, sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Slice watermelon and mozzarella about the same size. On a serving plate, layer watermelon, mozzarella and basil on top of arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Alternately, you can cube watermelon and mozzarella, and toss all ingredients in a salad bowl.

This fresh, light salsa is perfect for summertime.

Watermelon Salsa

Makes 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Lightly toss together and let sit 1 hour to combine flavors. Serve with tortilla chips.

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