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Watermelon recipes for summer

By August 16, 2023June 12th, 2024No Comments

Mangi, bevi e ti lavi la faccia.” The classic Roman motto referring to watermelon translates to, ‘eat, drink and wash your face all in one go.’

watermelon recipes for summer

Roadside stands sell whole watermelons or chilled slices. This is a classic summer feature throughout Italy. The hand painted signs on country roadside stalls will read the word anguria, but in southern Italy we call it cocomero.

Summer tradition imposes mammoth consumption of the everpresent watermelon, usually kept cold bobbing in a nearby fountain in absence of portable coolers. Whether it’s a picnic or a grigliata, watermelon plays the starring role at the Italian summer table. Everyone loves biting down on a slice of anguria as dessert, but have you ever tried it as a soup, or as a vegan steak?

Watermelon recipes for summer

We’ve collected some of our favorite watermelon recipes in both sweet and savory versions. And a bonus watermelon recipe at the end!

watermelon, tomato and feta salad for summer

Watermelon, heirloom tomatoes & feta salad

This super popular watermelon salad recipe offers a perfect sweet and salty balance. Add quinoa for extra protein, and for an original twist, add strawberries! The brightness of strawberries mixed with the briny feta and sweet watermelon is fantastic. Ideal alongside grilled chicken, steak, bbq’d burgers or veggie alternatives. 

watermelon caprese

Watermelon Caprese

On your platter alternate slices of milky mozzarella with tomato and watermelon (or swap out the pomodori altogether for this delightful summer salad. Don’t forget to season this sweeter version just as you would the classic: olive oil, salt, pepper and hand-torn fresh basil leaves. Skip the balsamico, it doesn’t belong on Caprese anyway.

watermeon recipes for summer: add prosciutto

Prosciutto & Watermelon

Why should cantaloupe melon have the monopoly on prosciutto? you’ll find that watermelon is just as great a dance partner for prosciutto, particularly the more salty Parma ham.

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watermeon recipes for summer: gazpacho

Watermelon gazpacho

We love a classic, tomato-based gazpacho, but the addition of watermelon gives this Spanish summer soup a delicious subtle sweetness that undercuts the acidity of the tomato and peppers.

watermeon recipes for summer: grilled like steak

Watermelon “steaks”

Like with grilled peaches and grilled pineapple, grilling watermelon not only changes the texture of the fruit, but it also lends smoky grill marks and flavor, bringing out the fruits’ natural sweetness. After firing up the grill, cut watermelon into wedges, brush with olive oil and season to taste. Then place it on the hot grill for about 90 seconds per side. Serve sprinkled with cajun seasoning or dukkah, and a drizzle of lime juice or honey.

watermeon recipes for summer: pickled rinds

Pickled Watermelon rind

Next time you have a watermelon fest, don’t toss out your leftover rinds. When sliced and soaked in white vinegar and cinnamon, the pale green sections make a delicious snack: a crunchy topping for salads, great addition in sandwiches, or with grilled meats. Try a sweet soy pickling liquid, or experiment using any pickle brine you love for this often overlooked part of the versatile watermelon.

watermeon recipes for summer: gelo di melone
Image credit Lupus Italicus, CC BY-SA 3.0

Watermelon gelo recipe

Like many other Sicilian fruit “gelos,” this chilled delight is typical of Palermo’s culinary tradition of cornstarch-based puddings. Here is the recipe to make your own gelo.


4 cups ripe watermelon pulp, seeded
1/3 cups sugar (optional)
5 Tbsp. of cornstarch
A handful of pistachio nuts, finely ground
1/4 cup dark chocolate, finely ground
Jasmine flowers
A pinch of cinnamon


Purée the watermelon in the blender and remove excess liquid by passing it through a fine mesh sieve. Mix sugar, watermelon purée and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a light simmer over medium heat.

As the elements simmer, the cornstarch will begin to thicken the mixture. Once well blended and thick, remove from the stove and allow it to cool.

Pour the creamy watermelon mixture in Martini glasses or glass bowls and allow it to cool completely. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until completely set. When ready to serve, dust the surface with ground pistachios, a dash of cinnamon and garnish with chocolate shavings and a jasmine flower.

What are your favorite watermelon recipes?

watermeon recipes for summer

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