Batter Licker

July 20, 2011

grilled watermelon (and goat cheese salad)

By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m halfway through my weekday routine: work, exercise, make dinner, dine, chat with Jay about our days, sleep. Sometimes I celebrate the consistency and intensity of my workouts that week. Other times I am just relieved to have heaped some unpackaged, ingredients-based bowl full of “dinner” on the table for a third day in a row. And still other times I find myself in a mid-week rut, overloaded with work but itching for some fun … or yet another weekend.

Last week, I fell squarely in this last category. But I managed to pull myself up by lugging a small-ish watermelon out of the kitchen and plopping it onto an outdoor grill. Thank you, Mark Bittman, for the timely inspiration.

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I’ve always adored biting into thick, cold slices of watermelon on a hot day, allowing its sweet juices to run down my face. It’s such a simple, fresh, delicious way to eat the fruit that I saw no reason to fuss with it.

Then I moved to San Francisco, where summers were full not of warm beach days but of frigid grey fog, and where I no longer lived with a family of five or an entire houseful of girls that could easily devour a giant watermelon within a matter minutes. Watermelon for 7+ days straight: because I was too excited at the market to buy the (more realistic) small melon; because I thought I could handle that much sickly sweet raw fruit; because I had the dumb. And because the melon was too heavy, I decided to replenish my vodka stock next time; so I couldn’t even transform the watermelon into a cocktail.

Grilled watermelon is a great way to mix things up. As grill marks form, they dry the watermelon out just a tad and add a wonderfully smoky flavor that balances out the sweetness. For an easy side (or dessert!), I’d recommend eating the watermelon straight off the grill. Or you can chop it up and toss it with goat cheese, nuts, red onion, and lemon juice for a savory-sweet salad.

Grilled Watermelon

The grill marks on watermelon, as with many other water-filled fruits, won’t be quite as charred as the ones that develop on your average hunk of meat; they’re more like grill indentations with very slight charring.

Also, Depending on the size of your watermelon, you may want to grill half or a third of it, and reserve the remaining fresh watermelon for another use. In my opinion, grilled fruit (while very delicious) does not store particularly well for leftovers.

1 watermelon, cut into 1-inch thick slices

Heat grill to high (i.e., when you place your hand 1 inch above the grill rack, you can only stand to hold it there for a second before your hand recoils).

Place watermelon slices on the grill. Cook until grill lines appear on the watermelon slice, about 5 to 7 minutes (maybe longer, depending how evenly your grill heats; mine was extremely uneven, so slices on the right side of the grill took a bit more time). Flip watermelon slice, and continue grilling another 5 or so minutes until grill lines appear on that side of the slice.

Remove slices from heat, and repeat for any remaining slices. Serve hot.

Grilled Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 4

This salad doesn’t need much added, and the goat cheese melts just a bit to create a nice creaminess.

4 c. Grilled Watermelon (recipe above), rinds removed and fruit chopped
5 oz. goat cheese
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/4 c. red onions, chopped
juice of 1 lemon

While watermelon is still warm, toss with goat cheese, walnuts and lemon juice.

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