This weekend is the official kickoff to summer, which means it’s time to take those white shoes out of the closet and get ready for some serious outdoor entertaining. So in honor of the season, we’re spotlighting a fruit that practically screams summer whenever you see it yet doesn’t always get the respect it deserves: watermelon.

How many backyard barbecues and patio parties have you been to with watermelon wedges just plopped on a plate? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but frankly it’s a bit boring and the wedges don’t show off watermelon’s true potential.

First Things First

Before getting to all the creative watermelon recipes, let’s talk nutrition. Watermelon has the most Lycopene among all fresh produce. Why is this important? Because lycopene fights cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and much more. However, watermelon is not only high in lycopene but also in vitamins and minerals.

Now, before you use watermelon in a recipe, it’s important to start with a good one. Look for a watermelon that’s firm, symmetrical, and heavy for its size. And that creamy yellow spot on the bottom is a  good thing. It means the watermelon sat out and ripened in the sun.

Ok– on to the fun part, the recipes. We’re going to provide you with a wide variety and hope that some of them inspire you to try something new.

Watermelon Recipes: Appetizers

The Naitonal Watermelon Promotion Board features ideas for every possible meal. However, I’m zeroing in on three appetizers, Prosciutto Wrapped Watermelon and Brie Fingers, Basalmic Caramelized Onion Caprese and Watermelon Feta Bruschetta. All three look easy to make and seem perfect for warm weather entertaining. For something a little more versitile, you can also try watermelon salsa, which can transition from appetizer to accompany chicken or fish.

Now, to get your ideas flowing, here are a few appetizer photos…

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Appetizers - Watermelon Crab Cups

Watermelon Appetizer: Crab Cups

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Appetizers - Watermelon Checkers Board Appetizer

Watermelon Appetizer: Checker Board

Watermelon Recipes: Main Courses

Of course the refreshing nature of watermelon makes it perfect for salads. One of the most common combinations contrasting sweet and salty is watermelon and feta cheese, featured in a recipe simply called Awesome Watermelon Summer Salad.  Two others,  Blue Watermelon Walnut Salad and Thai Watermelon Salad, showcase stronger flavors for more intensity. The Thai salad in particular would be delicious with grilled fish like salmon or shrimp.

The sweetness of watermelon pairs well with Asian herbs and spices. Shrimp Watermelon Sate and Seseme Chicken Watermelon are two such recipes that celebrate watermelon and the flavors of the East On the other hand, if you prefer to grill hamburgers, then Flash Grilled Watermelon Cheddar Burgers are for you.

And now, some various watermelon entrée photos…

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Entrée - Watermelon Sesame Chicken

Watermelon Sesame Chicken

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Entrée - Watermelon Scallop Kebab

Watermelon Scallop Kebab

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Entrée - Watermelon Lobster Tacos

Watermelon Lobster Tacos

Watermelon Recipes: Drinks

Now the part that you may have been waiting for– drinks and desserts! I’ve had plenty of mimosas and margaritas but never tried a  Watermelon Mimosa or  Frozen Watermelon Blackberry Margaritas, which both sound like winners for my next patio party. And for those who don’t drink alcohol, Green Tea Punch and Chunky Watermelon Lemonade will quench the thrist of partygoers large and small.

And now, some watermelon drink pictures…

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Drinks - Cocktails - Watermelon Cherry Mojito

Watermelon Cherry Mojito

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Drinks - Cocktails - Watermelon Mimosa

Watermelon Recipes: Mimosa

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Drinks - Cocktails - Watermelon Green Tea Punch

Watermelon Green Tea Punch

Watermelon Recipes: Desserts

For an outdoor dessert that’s a bit more sophisticated and formal, Watermelon Lavender Sorbet, which uses fresh lavender leaves, can be served as a drink (with vodka) or dessert (without) while Watermelon Tarts , which are fast and easy to make, have been a staple for our summer parties for a long time. Another I haven’t tried but really want to is Almond Watermelon Tart, which looks perfect for July 4th since it has watermelon, blueberries, and yogurt.

Finally, some watermelon dessert images…

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Dessert - Watermelon Almond Tart

Watermelon Almond Tart Recipe

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Dessert - Watermelon Popsicle

Watermelon Popsicle Recipe

Watermelon Recipes: Watermelon Dessert - Watermelon Snow Capped Mountains

Watermelon Dessert: Snow Capped Mountains

Believe it or not, I’ve barely scratched the surface of watermelon recipes so if these have piqued your interest, there are plenty more here. You  can browse by type of food or cuisine, whatever suits your needs. And of course, if you want to just cut watermelon into wedges or use it in a delicious fruit bowl, that’s fine too!

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