I’ve grilled pretty much every vegetable you can think of. I’ve also grilled a few fruits like peaches and pineapple. But I’ve never grilled watermelon, and according to a Google search for recipes, doing so is nothing new. It is new to me though, as is being a fan of watermelon. In the past, I’ve shunned it in favor of Honeydew or Cantaloupe. But no longer.
Memorial Day weekend and the fact that the mint was already heartily growing new leaves in the pot in the backyard (aside: in order for mint to NOT take over your whole garden, it needs to be planted in a separate pot), it seemed the perfect time to try a Grilled Watermelon recipe.
I decided to combine several of the various recipes I found, based on the ingredients I had on hand (a la “Intuitive Cooking”…sort of). This was one big daddy of a watermelon, so I cut about 1/3 of it into 2” wedges, leaving the rinds intact. I brushed each wedge with a bit of olive oil so that it wouldn’t stick to the grill.
I cut off some of the mint leaves from the plant in the pot and chopped it up to use in the dressing:
For the Dressing, I whisked together the juice of two limes, 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of Celtic salt, a pinch (or 2, I like a bit of kick) of cayenne pepper and about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint.
I haven’t been eating much dairy lately, but this “French Feta” (from Wegman’s) was, well…”très bien” and gave the whole dish a certain decadence you wouldn’t really expect from fruit – grilled or not.
The contrast of the color of the vibrant watermelon on the black grill was almost as delicious as the dish itself.
What was also beautiful, was not having to pull out the thermometer to test if it’s now safe safe to consume (which is always a plus with grilling plants of any kind!) I grilled the slices for about 3 minutes per side on a hot grill which provided the desired grill marks. Once removed, I let them cool before cutting off the rinds.
I arranged them on a platter, drizzled the dressing, about 1/4 cup of the feta cheese and sprinkled with a bit more chopped mint, and the slightest pinch of Celtic salt (optional, of course, but I found it made the flavors really pop).
If you think watermelon is mostly just water, think again. It has some pretty impressive health benefits including being a great source of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C. As a matter of fact, among whole, fresh fruits that are commonly eaten in the U.S., watermelon now accounts for more U.S. intake of lycopene (by weight of fruit eaten) than any other fruit. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient that’s especially important for our cardiovascular health, and an increasing number of scientists now believe that lycopene is important for bone health as well. Nutritious yes, and practically tastes like dessert. At one point, I was reminiscent of eating watermelon Jolly Ranchers as a kid, which was slightly disturbing because while I loved this, I didn’t love Jolly Ranchers. Grilled Watermelon with Feta and Mint was a delicious and perfect accompaniment to the meal, and a great start to grilling season!