Watermelon: Adding The Taste of Summer to Your Menu

What does summer mean to restaurants? Farm fresh produce in season, in abundance and at the peak of its flavor profile such as watermelon. In fact, National Watermelon Day is celebrated on August 3. 

What can your restaurant do beyond just put it in a fresh fruit salad, a watermelon lemonade or perhaps the standard use of watermelon in restaurants– a salad with watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives and basil? Be daring and  get something different on your menu now. 

Watermelon is a zero waste vegetable, yes, vegetable. It is part of the same family as cucumbers: “cucurbitaceae.”  It can be broken down into four components to be used raw, cooked or baked with: meat, juice, rind and pulp.

For breakfast, serve watermelon jam with a basket of freshly baked scones. Serve pancakes? Pour on a watermelon syrup. Muffins on your menu? Add on a Watermelon Crumble Corn Muffin or add Watermelon Rind Bread to your breakfast pastry basket.

Watermelon Corn Muffins

And for a twist on bacon, add a side of Watermelon Candied Bacon to your egg menu or crumble it onto a classic Iceberg Lettuce Wedge Salad with Blue Cheeses or add it to your BLT for the day. More on lunch, how about a Grilled Chicken and Avocado Sandwich on a Toasted Brioche Bun with Watermelon Basil Marmalade? And of course the bar; a Grilled Watermelon Jalapeno Lime Tequila Cooler.

Watermelon Candied Bacon

More ideas to add to your menu:

  • Watermelon and Fresh Lime Sorbet
  • Watermelon Ice Cream
  • Watermelon Fruit Leather with the Check
  • Stir-Fried Grated Watermelon Rind with Sesame Oil, Chiles and Fresh Herbs
  • Watermelon Rind Slaw

TSAMMA Juice, which just launched  a Watermelon and Coconut Blend Juice, recommends using it to make a cocktail:

  • TSAMMARITA – watermelon, tequila, triple sec, fresh squeezed lime juice
  • TTSAMMAOSA – watermelon juice and champagne

How do you work with watermelon? Use it in place of any ingredient where there is a watermelon substitution opportunity.

Watermelon Water

  • Use the watermelon “water” where you would use fruit juice or water

Watermelon Pulp

  • Use us the pulp that has been strained after processing as you would a fruit puree: fold into batters, ice creams, make jams and marmalades

Watermelon Rind

  • Peel the rind and grate and strain out the excess liquid and use in place of grated zucchini or cabbage. Or grate with the outer skin and steam or sauté to soften before using. Substitute zucchini for rind in your zucchini bread recipe.

Watermelon “Meat”

  • Use the fresh watermelon “meat” in a variety of savory salads. Watermelon goes great with blackened shrimp, on top of a grilled piece of fish in the form of a spicy watermelon salsa. Serving a Roasted Pork Tenderloin? Serve it with a Pureed Sweet Potato and Watermelon Puree, made with pureed sweet potatoes with watermelon pulp folded in.

Start promoting now and have fun doing something different which is what restaurant people do to attract and surprise their customers. Elevate the watermelon and let the flavors roll. And if you want to go totally “zero waste” with watermelon, after you use the water, the meat, the pulp and if you are adventurous with the rind which you have peeled first, you can strain the juice out of the grated skinned rind “meat” and drink it; it tastes like coconut water.

Chef Liz Thompson

For recipes, contact Chef Liz at: liz@lizthompsonmarketing.com. Watermelon will be celebrated at the  California Watermelon  Festival on July 29 and 30.