A warm weather staple in the South, watermelon is synonymous with long summer days spent at the beach. Though it seems like a distinctly American food, the fruit we’re familiar has come a long way over the last 5,000 years. The precursor to the modern watermelon was first cultivated in northeastern Africa and undomesticated varieties still grow wild in the deserts of Egypt and Sudan today. These proto-watermelons were bitter and unappetizing, but fortunately, the modern Citrullus lanatus found in grocery stores is soft, sweet, and refreshing.
Though it’s grown throughout the year, watermelon tastes best when picked at the peak of ripeness, usually sometime between August and September. In fact, August 3 is National Watermelon Day, the perfect time to try out a new watermelon recipe.
How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon
There are few disappointments greater than cutting open your watermelon and finding pale, flavorless flesh where you expected a deep-hued sugary-sweet fruit. Follow these tips to pick the perfect watermelon:
- Pick up the fruit and turn it over. You’re looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon without cuts, soft spots, or dents.
- Try to find a watermelon that feels heavy for its size.
- A large butter yellow spot on the bottom of your watermelon is perfectly normal; this is where your melon sat while growing.
Making Your Watermelon Salad
Today’s watermelon salad is a vegan-friendly recipe from One Green Planet, the perfect snack hot August afternoons. This nutritious recipe features a homemade watermelon vinaigrette dressing that pairs nicely with some peppery arugula.
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Serves: 2 people
- Standard blender
- Medium mixing bowl
Vegan Watermelon Salad Ingredients
- 4 cups organic mixed greens
- ½ cup organic watermelon (cubed)
- 1 teaspoon organic hemp seeds
- 1 teaspoon organic chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon organic walnuts
Watermelon Vinaigrette Dressing
- 2 cups organic watermelon (large chunks)
- ¾ cups organic extra-virgin olive oil (cold-pressed is best)
- 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup (or your favorite natural sweetener)
- 2 organic Medjool dates
- Himalayan salt to taste
Pro-Tip: When adding sweeteners, give raw organic honey a try. It has numerous health benefits and is found in many varieties from local beekeepers and apiaries, making it a sweet way to support local businesses.
When collecting your ingredients, try purchasing organic, locally-sourced options if at all possible. Shopping local boosts your community’s economy and is great for biodiversity of the local environment.
- Make the dressing: Place all dressing ingredients into blender and pulse until your dressing has a smooth consistency.
- Mix the salad: Add the mixed greens and watermelon cubes into a medium mixing bowl.
- Bring it all together: Drizzle some of the watermelon vinaigrette evenly over the salad (you will have enough left for a few more salads).
- Top it off: Sprinkle the hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnut (or pecan) over the top of your salad.
What Makes Watermelon So Good for You?
The humble watermelon is a great source of vitamins A and C, lycopene, and l-citruline. Several studies suggest that watermelon also supports normal blood pressure, helps stabilize electrolyte and fluid levels, and may improve inflammatory and antioxidant capacity. This versatile fruit is a great base for chilled summer recipes like gazpacho or watermelon citrus detox water.
Do you have any ideas for new ways to add more watermelon to your diet? Share them in the comments below!
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